By Wilmarie Brits
The ongoing debate on the merits of working from home instead of at the office recently gained new impetus after the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the implementation of social distancing measures and forced many companies to let their employees work from home in order to keep operations going.
For many years, employees have been battling for greater work-life flexibility, but employers have for the most part resisted this. How will the current large-scale experiment regarding working from home due to the lockdown change that?
According to former FNB head Michael Jordaan, operations are unlikely to be the same as before after the lockdown, and working from home will become the norm for many companies.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of a national lockdown at short notice forced companies to quickly put the required processes and tools in place to ensure that their employees are equipped to work remotely. Now that these processes are established and the results of several weeks’ remote working are evident, it will be difficult to put the genie back in the bottle.
Employers who fear a lack of productivity on the part of their employees who are working out of sight and without conventional supervision can take heart from the results of several studies which show that remote workers are more productive than usual, depending on the integrity of the employee, and endure less stress. This is attributed to fewer interruptions from their colleagues and eliminating the need to commute.
The abrupt closure of offices has forced employers to fundamentally change how they communicate, collaborate, and manage. While many companies seem to be embracing remote working, the question arises whether this can be sustained in the long run. According to Diane Mulcahy, author of The Gig Economy, this new norm comes with a number of problems and whilst there are several great reasons for remote working, there are also some challenges.
Communication plays a vital role in the success of any company, and the lack of physical interaction between employees due to remote working can result in poor communication. For example, a misunderstanding that could have been settled with a quick chat at someone’s desk may become a complex issue when emails, voice calls or WhatsApp messages become the primary form of communication.
Working from home also leaves companies vulnerable to potential security threats. According to John McLoughlin, CEO of J2 Software, employees who work at the office are protected by secure wi-fi networks and company firewalls, but this may not be available at home. “The sudden move to home has meant that some employees are using laptops and desktops with no firewalls. Unsecured home networks, default passwords and excessive social media sharing are opening holes in a company’s cyber security,” said McLoughlin.
The sudden implementation of the national lockdown may change the way we work forever and while it may not be for everybody, employers may find they can save money and increase some workers’ productivity. In addition, work-from-home benefits may prove to be the difference between an enjoyable and a stressful work life for many employees.
Met die Covid-19-inperking steeds volstoom aan die gang, bring ons vir jou nóg ’n inperkingsuitgawe op jou rekenaarskerm, hierdie keer met gemak saamgestel asof dit al jare lank so gedoen word. Almal het die nuwe manier van doen se ritme nou reeds bemeester, met sommige wat intussen terug is by die werk terwyl ander nog […]
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