Remote work has definite advantages – but keeping remote workers motivated and productive can be a challenge.
In this article, we discuss:
- remote work trends in post-pandemic South Africa
- pros and cons of remote work, for workers and businesses
- strategies for keeping remote workers inspired and productive.
Remote work trends in South Africa
Corporations and business owners may be in different stages of reaction. But there’s no denying that remote work is a feature of the modern work environment.
As early as 2017, a survey by Dimension Data found that in South Africa, as many as 42% of large organisations had some employees working from home full-time. In small businesses and startups, the figures were likely much higher.
Two years of lockdown massively accelerated this trend. According to a recent survey, as many as 79% of South African employees worked from home during the pandemic
While many South Africans have now returned to the office, a good number haven’t (and don’t intend to).
Even more people work remotely part of the time; a so-called hybrid arrangement.
Key pros and cons, for workers and employers
The pandemic confirmed what was already becoming increasingly obvious.
Modern internet capabilities mean that for a lot of roles, remote work is possible. It also suits many people a good sight better than working in traditional offices.
Along with the advantages are a number of challenges.
Advantages of working remotely
Working remotely gives people greater flexibility and independence. It also cuts out the time, costs and frustration of having to commute.
A recent South African study confirmed the positive overall reactions of South Africans to working from home during the pandemic.
According to the survey, these were the effects of working remotely:
- 63% of professionals say their productivity increased
- 46% were more satisfied with their jobs
- 87% said they did not reduce their working hours.
In an earlier study, a leading research firm, Leadership IQ, found that 45% of remote workers were happy in their jobs. This compared to only 24% of office workers.
For businesses, having remote workers saves operating and equipment costs.
It can reduce or eliminate the need for expensive office real estate. With many home-based workers using their own devices and internet connections, it also reduces spending on computer, internet and telecommunication equipment and services.
The challenges of remote working
For employees and organisations, remote working can pose challenges such as:
- lack of oversight
- personal isolation
- reduced communication
- lack of motivation
- increased distractions.
All of these issues can be tackled in various ways, but one of the hardest ones to overcome is a lack of motivation. We look at some of the ways that businesses can help keep remote workers motivated.
1 | Use effective communication tools
Effective communication is vital in any company, but it becomes even more so when employees work remotely.
Online tools offer a number of ways to communicate with remote workers. These include chat applications, productivity tracking and task assignment tools and video or voice conferencing.
2 | Don’t time track
Tracking your employees’ time might seem sensible, but it can make remote workers feel micromanaged.
Rather do productivity tracking, where you measure how much they’re getting done each week or month.
Regular meetings are also a good way to make sure they still understand the company’s expectations and are confident they can deliver on them.
3 | Encourage good workspace setups
An uncomfortable work environment, whether at home or in the office, can negatively affect productivity.
Where possible, encourage remote employees to use ergonomic workstations, with proper desks and comfortable office chairs.
Larger businesses might negotiate deals for their employees with furniture and other equipment providers, for example. Employers may also offer full-time remote workers stipends towards setting up comfortable home office spaces.
4 | Establish ground rules for remote work
Right from the start, both the company and the employee need to understand and adhere to the parameters of the arrangement.
Discuss and agree on things like working hours, flexibility, reporting and meetings.
5 | Set clear expectations
Without constant access to a supervisor or manager, remote workers need to understand their key duties and responsibilities completely.
There must be no question or confusion as to what their responsibilities are or what they should be delivering each month.
6 | Offer professional development to remote workers
Learning helps remote workers feel more confident in their abilities and motivates them to be more proactive.
Offer opportunities to do online courses or attend local workshops that will augment their knowledge and expand their expertise.
7 | Keep remote employees in the loop
In scenarios where some employees work on office premises and others don’t, remote workers may feel a bit disconnected from an organisation’s progress and goals.
Be sure to keep remote employees informed of company changes and progress, and reassure them that they’re part of the team.
If there are any strategic meetings or presentations, find a way to include remote workers via video calls or online meetings.
8 | Consider incorporating flexible access to managed workspace
Keeping remote workers motivated is easier if they have access to professional workspace and meeting facilities, when and where they’re needed.
This makes it possible for employees to take breaks from the isolation of working from home. It also gives them access to office facilities and equipment (and meeting rooms), when required.
At The Workspace, we offer affordable, fully serviced offices and coworking, ideal for teams that include remote workers and for freelancers and independent contractors. For more information or to arrange a tour of one of our branches, call us on 0861 250 259 or contact us online.