Hybrid working and working from home is set to become a permanent fixture in South Africa, says Accenture in Africa chief executive Vukani Mngxati.
Accenture is an Ireland-based multinational professional services company that specialises in information technology services and consulting.
Speaking at a recent seminar, Mngxati said business leaders have had to prepare for both a technological and mental shift brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“When we look at the future, we think work will now predominantly be done remotely and that flexibility is going to be a key driver. We aim to make sure that our people keep a balanced life at work and home to support our clients,” he said.
Mngxati said that when the pandemic first hit, businesses faced operational challenges to provide staff with facilities that made remote work possible – simple things like providing a desk.
However, he noted that there has been a significant shift as businesses did not anticipate was the significant mental wellness issues that came with working from home.
“In the service industry, the reality is that you problem-solve jointly through in-person meetings. Working from home means harder work and longer hours with a potential impact on mental health. Recognising the challenges our people, like so many others, are facing, we have a large focus on how best to support them.”
Mngxati says leaders have no choice but to understand the mental health consequences of remote work and to act swiftly where there are problems.
He said common traits to look out for are staff feeling isolated, lonely, or disconnected both socially and professionally; as well as being unable to switch off; having difficulty staying motivated; not being able to prioritise one’s workload; and feeling uncertain about progress.
“The communications dynamic has also changed over months spent at home and to be effective a degree of over-communication is needed. Being apart can sometimes result in misinterpretation and misunderstanding. It can also require more explanation and clarification on activities.”