Where to from here? Workplace after Lockdown.

For some time we have been talking about the 4th Industrial Revolution (4th IR) and how it will change the way we live and work. There was a focus on job losses as well as opportunities that will come along. I want to link the world after COVID-19 to the 4th IR. Why? Because some companies had to come to a complete halt as there were no resources and strategies in place to assist employees with working from home. We have many companies in SA that do not provide their staff with laptops and some do but fail to provide internet connection. This could be because of costs or that there has never been a need for them.

Businesses need to start thinking about implementing working from home as well as the resources they will need to ensure that staff remains productive. Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, sent an email to staff notifying them that they can continue working from home forever if they want to. Of course, they had adopted the work-from-home model way before lockdown and this put them in a position of advantage when lockdown hit.

A lot of honest conversations need to take place when organizations decide to implement the work-from-home model. Are employees productive for the full 8/9 hours a day? Do certain issues need to be discussed only in meetings or can they be communicated through email? How will we measure productivity when employees are not in the office? What costs are associated with employees working remotely? What about employees that prefer being in an office environment, do we still keep the offices open?

Various tools can be used to monitor employees’ active times throughout the day. For the model to be effective there needs to be a trusting relationship between employer and employee. You can start by allowing employees to work remotely once or twice a week and as the trust grows the hours will also increase.

We cannot deny that the world has changed, we need to be able to change with it. Old techniques might not yield the same results they once did. I believe that in as much as the pandemic has been disruptive for many, it also became a learning curve for most.

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