What has been a crazy year, has finally come to an end, but the threat of COVID-19 has not subsided just yet. Despite scientists announcing a possible vaccine for COVID-19 late last year, we are still very much at war with this virus and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
This pandemic has taken a drastic toll on our countries economy and has negatively affected thousands of businesses all around South Africa, but for some fortunate businesses, it has merely been a challenge that could be overcome by working remotely.
We here at JustSolve have been one of those lucky companies to have not been majorly affected, but it has been an eye-opener for us, especially having to adapt to the concept of remote working. Funnily enough, in an interview with our managing director, Botha van der Vyver, we learned that remote working was already being considered a few months before we went into lockdown, as more and more employees were requesting the possibility of it. JustSolve has always had flexible work hours and has trusted their employees to get their work done on time, but the nationwide lockdown forced our hand into working from home permanently.
We tried returning to the offices when some of the lockdown restrictions were lifted, albeit on different schedules for specific teams, but on two occasions we had to evacuate and isolate because of our employees testing positive for COVID 19. It wasn’t until the 26th of October last year when it was announced that JustSolve and all their employees would be operating 100% remotely. That was a welcome shock to all of us.
There are several things that an organisation can benefit from by working remotely, the most important being the increase in productivity and profitability. On top of that, companies also have access to a larger pool of available professionals and candidates, which makes the global reach much bigger. Better engagement, higher retention rates and the rapid response to market changes are also amongst the main benefits of a remote organisation. But what about the individuals themselves? Thanks to remote working, employees can now live a more flexible lifestyle, which contributes to their health and wellness. Less commuting also results in less stress and more time to focus on the day’s priorities, which ultimately boosts productivity. In turn, this can certainly boost the morale of employees, which can give them a sense of creativity and a renewed passion for their work.
However, remote working doesn’t come without its challenges. Organisations and companies may find collaboration and management of projects quite tricky in the virtual sense. Furthermore, time differences between employees in different cities and countries can become challenging, and for organisations who micromanage their employees, there might be an issue of trust. For the remote workers themselves, knowing when to unplug might be one of their main obstacles, while others might find it difficult to maximise their productivity at home when there are so many distractions around.
We sat down with Botha and asked him a couple of questions about his experience with regards to working remotely:
What has surprised you most about the remote work?
“How easily everyone adapted and how much the number of meetings has declined. According to a Regus report, 28% of South African business people say that when they work remotely, they are working from different cities in the same country. Some of the JustSolve employees have started with semigration already.”
Will this be a permanent change, or will there be a new office in the future?
“Nothing is permanent, and change is an inevitable constant. We might consider more, but smaller physical locations, almost a Regus type setup within each country or city. We might leverage of existing flexible workspaces, but only time will tell.”
If a business can do remote work, do you think they should encourage it?
“Yes, I think that if your business or industry lends itself towards remote working it should be encouraged, however, each employee should ask themselves whether remote working will work for them personally and be honest with themselves about it.
In that same Regus report, it says that 33% of South African business people say that a slow or unreliable internet connection is an obstacle to home working. 74% of South African workers say that closer to home working improves productivity.”
Do you enjoy working remotely?
“I enjoy working remotely and now have more control over my time, and how I spend it, however, I need to make sure that I unplug after work. I still enjoy seeing the team every so often, following up on leads with face-to-face meetings and going to see customers, as we are social beings and will always crave social interactions.”
Going forward, it looks like JustSolve and all its employees will be working from home full time, but despite the challenges we mentioned above, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 2020 has been a very tough year for businesses in South Africa and the world in general, but remarkably, we have recorded it as our most successful year to date. One such success was an Internet Service Provider (ISP) solution for Seacom’s new fibre business, called WonderNet, and we did this entire project with a fully remote team. So maybe working remotely isn’t a bad thing after all?
Are you and your company working remotely yet? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you. As for all of us here at JustSolve, we sincerely hope 2021 is a prosperous year for you all!