Remote work has grown in popularity in recent years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only fueled this trend. Remote work is still in its early stages in Africa, but it is rapidly expanding. In South Africa, for example, the adoption rate of remote work has risen from 30% in 2019 to 50% by 2023.
As remote work becomes more prevalent, it is critical to evaluate its impact on productivity, employee well-being, and organisational culture.
According to studies, remote workers are just as productive as their office-based counterparts. Indeed, some research has found that remote workers are more productive.
A Stanford University study, for example, discovered that remote workers were 13% more productive than their office-based counterparts. Remote workers may be more productive for a variety of reasons. For starters, remote workers frequently face fewer distractions than office workers.
Second, because remote workers have more control over their work environment, they can be more focused and productive. Third, remote workers often have greater scheduling flexibility, allowing them to work when they are most productive.
Employee well-being can also benefit from remote work. A University of Chicago study, for example, discovered that remote workers were less likely to experience stress and burnout than office-based workers. Remote workers also reported having a better work-life balance and being happier with their jobs.
There are several reasons why remote work can benefit employee well-being. For starters, remote workers have greater control over their work environment, which can help reduce stress and anxiety. Second, remote workers have greater scheduling flexibility, which allows them to balance their personal and professional obligations better.
Third, remote workers frequently have more opportunities for social interaction, both with coworkers and with family and friends.
Remote work can affect organisational culture as well. A study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, for example, discovered that remote workers were more likely than office-based workers to feel connected to their company’s culture.
Remote workers were also more likely to believe their employers valued and respected them. Remote work can improve organisational culture for a variety of reasons. For starters, remote work can contribute to a more inclusive and equitable workplace.
Second, remote work can contribute to a more collaborative and innovative workplace. Third, remote work can contribute to a more environmentally friendly workplace.
Examples from Southern African Countries
Several companies in South Africa have successfully implemented remote work programmes. Naspers, for example, employs a completely remote workforce. Naspers discovered that remote work improved employee productivity, well-being, and job satisfaction.
The government of Botswana has launched several initiatives to promote remote work. The government, for example, has established a remote work portal to provide resources and support to remote workers. In addition, the government has collaborated with the private sector to establish remote work hubs in rural areas.
Old Mutual, a financial services company in Namibia, has a hybrid work programme that allows employees to work remotely up to two days per week. Old Mutual discovered that the hybrid work programme increased employee productivity, well-being, and retention.
So what are we saying?
Remote work is becoming more popular in Africa, and it is improving productivity, employee well-being, and organisational culture. Companies in Southern Africa are pioneering remote work programmes, and their success serves as a model for others in the region.
Recommendations for companies
- Companies in Africa and other parts of the world considering implementing remote work programmes should consider the following suggestions:
- Create a clear policy for remote work. The policy should spell out the company’s expectations for remote workers, such as working hours, communication requirements, and performance expectations.
- Provide remote workers with the tools and resources they require. Remote employees should have the same tools and resources as office workers, such as computers, software, and training.
- Establish a regular communication and feedback system. It is critical for remote employees to feel connected to their team and their employer. Businesses should implement regular communication channels such as video calls, instant messaging, and email. Companies should also provide regular performance feedback to remote workers.
- Foster a trusting and accountable culture. Employees and employers must have a high level of trust in order to work remotely. Companies should foster an environment in which employees feel trusted and accountable for their work.