Wednesday | 01 April | 2020
By Nico Strydom
Millions of South Africans have been working from home since the government announced a period of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
South African companies had to adapt quickly and get things in place in order to enable their employees to work from home.
Prof. Renata Schoeman, head of the MBA in health care leaders programme at Stellenbosch University’s business school, says that to work during this time of the corona virus brings about unprecedented challenges to workers, companies and the economy as a whole.
“Employees who suddenly experience the ‘freedom’ of working from home, can also experience anxiety due to a lack of supervision and direction, too little time to adapt to a new way of working, the fear of job losses, the managing of technological challenges, staying productive and at the same time keeping all the balls in the air regarding family and work responsibilities.”
However, Schoeman is of the opinion that if it is managed correctly, working from home can be just as productive as being in the office. The pandemic made the acceptance of technology and distant and flexible work unavoidable. According to Schoeman, this will result in a permanent change to the way we work.
“To work from home successfully will depend on the individual him/herself. It’s all is about time management skills, self discipline and motivation, technological and communication skills and adaptability,” Prof Schoeman said.
It could also be easy to fall into the trap of bad discipline, by not sticking to a daily routine and just eating junk food, taking afternoon naps or performing household chores around the house for which there never was time before, during working hours.
Schoeman recommends that you still tackle your work in a professional manner, even while working from home. This means creating a committed work space where there is no continuous distractions and where you have the necessary equipment to remain productive.
“Restrict and manage interruptions. Set clear boundaries for family and friends and establish a routine.” And stick to your daily routine. “Don’t work in your pyjamas and don’t become too comfortable and relaxed, as it will have a negative impact on your motivation and productivity.”
Schoeman also recommends that you compile a to-do list so that you can prioritise tasks and plan properly. “Make sure you stay informed about what is happening by speaking to colleagues on a regular basis, even if it is in a virtual manner. Stay professional and make sure you are reachable at all times and able to react during work hours.” It is also important to maintain your physical and mental health.
Employers might be afraid that productivity will be influenced due to employees working from home, but according to Schoeman, numerous studies have found the opposite to be true. “Employees generally are more productive as there are fewer interruptions, such as colleagues who drop in now and then for a chat and because there are fewer ineffective meetings.”
According to Schoeman, the greater independence results in employees developing skills in self-management, communication and the use of technology.
Stellenbosch University’s business school: https://www.usb.ac.za/
* All information was correct at the time of publication.