Remote working in South Africa: Flexible hours helping business productivity

Joe Svetlik

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Remote working is changing the world of work for the better, and South Africa is leading the charge. Here’s why it’s good news for workers, employers and the economy.

Breaking out of the nine-to-five

A nine-to-five no longer means being chained to your desk. Thanks to the flexibility of remote working, you can take care of business in a cafe, hotel or even in a bar or on the beach. And nowhere is this more true than in South Africa.

According to a recent study by Regus, a third of all workers in South Africa now work from outside their company’s main offices for half the week or more. It also showed that 62 per cent of people work remotely for at least some of the time. This is higher than in the UK, where 54 per cent of employees now work flexibly in some shape or form, according to CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development.

The benefits are obvious. Greater flexibility to fit around your lifestyle, the ability to vary your routine, a shorter or more varied (or even non-existent) commute, and the chance to interact with different people each day are just a few reasons why more people are opting for a mobile office.

And it’s yielding great results. According to a TINYpulse report What Leaders Need to Know About Remote Workers, remote workers are happier, feel more valued and are more productive. In which case, you might well wonder why the traditional office still exists.

A boon for the economy

Remote working has economic benefits too. According to a study by Citrix and Cebr, remote working could add R17 billion to the South African economy. This was calculated by an addition of 0.4 per cent to gross domestic product and slashing commuting costs by R39.5 billion. It said workers could save an astonishing 320 million hours a year by not commuting. Think of how much could be achieved in that time.

But remote working has other benefits too. It could help engage people who aren’t currently economically active because they can’t work in a formal workspace, such as housewives or househusbands. According to Brendan McAravey, country manager of Citrix South Africa, 90 per cent of those surveyed said if they were given the tools to work remotely, they would happily re-engage with the economy. Which would mean not only a healthier economy, but more income for their households and even more purpose to their lives.

Staying connected

Working remotely couldn’t be easier. Not only are more and more locations equipped with Wi-Fi, but 4G and fibre broadband services continue to roll out across the country, making it easier than ever to stay connected while on the go.

You don’t have to use your own device either. While a lot of firms operate a ‘bring your own device’ policy, this has its own problems – most importantly, it puts company data at risk, as there’s no guarantee an employee’s device will have the requisite security provisions to see off malware and hacks. That’s why a lot of companies are replacing BYOD with CYOD, or ‘choose your own device’.

This lets workers pick which device they use at work from a selection, all of which are pre-approved by the company. That way, the employee has the freedom to use a device that’s right for them, while the firm can rest safe in the knowledge that it’s protected by its security safeguards.

Remote controls

So which device should you choose? Lenovo has a great range of devices for on the move, from the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, with its extra-tough carbon fibre-reinforced chassis, to the ThinkPad X1 Yoga, which can also be used as a tablet. There are also dedicated tablets, like the ThinkPad 10, for more relaxed working like checking emails and documents. And when you’re working from home, why not use a desktop like the ThinkCentre M900 SFF, or an all-in-one such as the ThinkCentre X1?

All of which might leave IT managers scratching their heads, thinking: “How do I support a team if they’re all working elsewhere?” Don’t worry, we’ve compiled a handy guide on how to do so without losing your mind.

South Africa is just one country undergoing a huge change in the nature of work. By understanding remote working and supporting it, companies, employees and the economy as a whole can thrive.