Work from home is here to stay: Discovery

 ·10 Apr 2024

Working from home isn’t going anywhere, with workplace flexibility becoming normalised in South Africa since the pandemic.

Discovery Insure said that 23% of its clients who began working from home during the pandemic are still not back in the office full-time.

“Flexible working is still one of the top motivators for job seekers, as more people seek better work-life balance. This trend is reflected in Discovery’s own data, which corroborates several other studies,” said Robert Attwell, Discovery Insure CEO.

Although some companies are pushing for a return to the office in favour of face-to-face time, others have embraced the hybrid approach.

Attwell added that while some companies pushed for the return to the office in favour of face-to-face interactions, clearer boundaries between work and personal time, and increased collaboration opportunities, others have chosen to embrace a hybrid approach instead.

“We’ve found that traffic volumes have increased during the work week on certain days, but overall, volumes are not where they were in 2019. Discovery Insure’s data suggests that we can still expect to see hybrid workplace models for some time if the current rate of change remains the same,” adds Attwell.

“The data shows that while many South Africans are making their way back to the office, most aren’t working in the building for the traditional 9-to-5, five days a week. I believe this is because many companies – including Discovery – understand the benefits of hybrid work.”

Discovery’s surveys show that 53% of people drive to the office five days a week, while 14% only do so once a week.

75% of Discovery’s clients who work from offices are now commuting at least three times a week.

When working in the office, South Africans spend the same number of hours in the office as they used to before the pandemic, from Mondays to Thursdays, but leave early on Fridays.

“The data shows something that we already knew, too: South Africans like to knock off early at the end of the week, as they spend 20 minutes less in the office on Fridays,” said Attwell.

Offices also tend to be full on Wednesdays, with nearly 80% of workers (full-time and hybrid) going into the office on Wednesdays.

Friday is the least popular day for working in the office.

“Data tells us that many Discovery Insure drivers follow a hybrid work model, which helps them avoid traffic – and the time and fuel wastage that comes with it,” said Attwell.

“So, if you’re hybrid working a few days a week, and if you can choose which days you go into the office, make one of those in-office days a Friday, and if it’s a Wednesday, leave the house earlier to avoid traffic and congestion.”

Data also shows that people who work from the office full-time drive the most on weekends too.

Attwell said this could be because in-office workers don’t have as much time during the week to run errands, whereas those with hybrid work arrangements likely do short grocery trips during their breaks.

Although many global companies are challenging work-from-home models, many South African companies are going and staying hybrid, with employees wanting to retain flexible work arrangements.

“It remains to be seen whether South Africans will eventually return to 2019 full-time in-office levels,” said Attwell.

“Insights from Discovery’s employee data show that in certain roles where the output is objectively measurable, workers in a hybrid model are more productive.”

“When we take on a broader societal perspective, hybrid and work-from-home models have kept traffic volumes lower than pre-pandemic levels, which benefits all motorists.”

Read: New driving licence cards for South Africa coming this month

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