Remote working gains traction in SA

In line with global trends, South African companies are increasingly offering remote work options to prospective employees, many of whom demand such an allowance as early as during the job negotiation process. Those companies reluctant to accommodate these terms are losing out on the best talent, a recent survey shows.

Of the companies polled by Jack Hammer, Africa’s largest independent executive search firm with offices across the continent as well as Los Angeles, 80% offered remote working solutions. The 20% of companies who didn’t all said they had job offers turned down as a result. 50% of the companies who offered remote working said that the matter was raised during the job interview process.

“While this trend is still in its early stages locally, it is encouraging to see that companies are starting to understand and respond to the changing paradigm in today’s world of work, and that most realise they have to adapt if they are going to land and retain excellent candidates,” says Advaita Naidoo, COO at Jack Hammer.

She says the trend is gaining popularity mainly in tech, retail and financial services industries. And it is not just the top dogs benefiting, as more than 90% of companies offering remote working offered it at all levels of seniority.

“The move towards remote working is driven by a combination of the nature of the organisation itself, particularly where they are more tech-centric ones, and the employees who motivate for it. While most companies were still reluctant to offer remote working even a few years ago, the survey shows that there is definitely a mindset shift taking place.”

Naidoo says some of the main reasons cited by the companies polled included:

· The need to attract or retain tech talent that would otherwise go to a more flexible competitor;

· the ability to reduce overall infrastructure costs;

· the impact on employee wellness as a result of better work-life balance, and

· enhanced productivity flowing from the fact that employees who are afforded flexibility are not limited to basic office hours in order to get the work done, nor losing hours commuting every day.

Most companies however made it clear that some in-office presence was still required, predominantly where meetings needed to be conducted face-to-face, and also to maintain a sense of connection and team cohesion.