Most South Africans want to keep on working from home, study finds

According to a study, over 53% of South Africans said they preferred a job that allows them to work from home at least occasionally. File photo.

According to a study, over 53% of South Africans said they preferred a job that allows them to work from home at least occasionally. File photo.

Published Apr 7, 2021


One of the major legacies of the Covid-19 pandemic is an expectation by workers that they will be allowed to work remotely more often.

This is according to a new study, Decoding Global Ways of Working by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Network, including local partner organisation CareerJunction, which included almost 209 000 participants in 190 countries and 1 421 in South Africa.

According to the study, over 53% of South Africans said that in future, they would prefer a job that allows them to work from home at least occasionally.

The study noted that South Africa has also emerged as one of the countries that would embrace fully remote work, with 44% saying they want to work fully remotely compared to a global average of 24%.

BCG Johannesburg principal and recruiting director Rudi van Blerk said the pandemic significantly changed how people think about their work.

“Workers and managers alike have seen that flexible work models are possible, and in fact desirable, with only 4% of South Africans saying they would want to return to working completely on-site at an office after the pandemic.”

The report also stated that South Africans who are in digital, knowledge and office jobs in particular, many of them already working remotely, want more workplace flexibility on a permanent basis and would even consider going fully remote. Marketing & Communication leads the charge, with 62.5% saying they would move to a fully remote mode of working.

“Even study participants who have jobs that require the handling of physical goods, or contact with clients, expressed a desire for set-ups that would allow them to work remotely at least occasionally. Nearly 60% – 57% – of social care workers in South Africa said they would move to working remotely,” the study said.

The report also found that 61% of South African respondents would like some or full flexibility in defining their working hours. “This is in line with the global average of 64%. The majority of workers in all job roles also show a strong desire for this flexibility to extend beyond the pandemic,” it said.

Blerk said South African respondents felt a generally positive impact of Covid-19 on the way they work, particularly in terms of the flexibility in when and how to work, the use of digital tools, effectiveness and team collaboration.

“The only exception was work-life balance, where the impact reported was negative. Overall impact was worse in physical or social contact jobs, like social care, manual work, and customer service – but it was positive for knowledge/digital jobs,” he said.


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