Employees in South Africa give the middle finger to the latest work from home shift

 ·13 Mar 2024

A survey conducted by jobs marketplace OfferZen shows that more than half of remote working developers in South Africa will simply quit if forced to return to the office – as more bosses push towards the old way of working.

The group said remote work options have shot up among the thousands of employees surveyed as being the primary non-money-related benefit they look for in jobs, which has major implications for companies looking to hire skilled professionals – or retain the ones they have.

“It follows that you should involve your teams in the discussions of a workplace shift and make heading into the office as attractive as possible if it is a requirement for your business,” the group said.

“For example, compensating developers for their travel costs and making your office hours flexible could go a long way to make a return to the office more appealing.

“On the other hand, if you are a remote business: Put it front and centre in your job ads when hiring. It could be your secret weapon for catching the eye of quality talent seeking scarce remote opportunities.”

According to the OfferZen survey, 52.3% of respondents indicated that they would leave their jobs if their bosses forced them to return to the office.

This is a worrying statistic, given that more companies are pushing employees to once again engage in face-to-face connections back in the workplace.

Between 2023 and 2024, the group found that more companies have returned to office-based work policies – though these still remain the minority.

Office-based work policies rose from 7.9% in 2023 to 9.6% in 2024 among the employees surveyed.

Remote work dropped significantly, from 56.2% to 40.8%. The real ‘winner’ has been a hybrid model, which rose to 49.6% (vs 36% in 2023) to be the dominating work policy now.

“While South African developers have largely avoided a mass return to the office, they are starting to see a change in their remote policies,” OfferZen said.

The group found that the ‘return to office’ trend from employers is making employees rethink their jobs and how moving back to office jobs will impact their lives.

The biggest impact would be felt on costs, with remote work employees saving on various expenses by not going into the office. There is also a time saving benefit of skipping the commute, as well as having more flexibility and a better work-life balance.

This is all compounded by the fact that developer jobs are in high demand, with OfferZen noting that senior developers often have their pick of multiple job offers, both locally and abroad.

These developers indicate getting between two to five job offers when looking for positions.

While the OfferZen survey is focused on developers, a separate survey by consultancy PwC showed similar sentiment among other workers, particularly younger (aka Gen Z) employees – at least a third of which won’t even consider a position if it does not have a remote work option.

This is in stark contrast to many older workers, who are now senior managers and bosses, who are keen on getting back to the ‘traditional’ ways or work.

KPMG’s Southern African 2023 CEO Outlook found that 72% of Southern African CEOs support a return to in-person/onsite work within the next three years.

PwC said that views on work have to change, and companies need to pay attention to the needs of their employees and what they want out of a job.

“Perspective on location needs to change: it’s not just where you’re located, it’s also when and how you work,” PwC said.

“Only the most person-centric and purpose-driven organisations will attract, hire, grow and retain the skills and talent needed to go from ‘survive’ to ‘thrive’ in the future of work.”

Read: Changes to work-from-home policies on the cards for South Africa

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