Advaita Naidoo
DURBAN - In line with global trends, South African companies are increasingly offering remote work options to prospective employees.

And those companies reluctant to accommodate these terms are losing out on talent, a recent survey shows.

Of the companies polled by independent executive search firm, Jack Hammer, 80% offered remote working solutions. The 20% of companies who didn’t offer this solution said they had job offers turned down as a result. Half of the companies who offered remote working said the matter was raised during the job interview process.

“While this trend is still in its early stages locally, it is encouraging to see that companies are starting to respond to the changing paradigm in today’s world of work, and that most realise they have to adapt if they are going to land and retain excellent candidates,” said Advaita Naidoo, the chief operating officer at Jack Hammer.

She said the trend was gaining popularity mainly in the tech, retail and financial services industries. And it was not just the top executives benefiting, as more than 90% of companies offering remote working offered it at all levels of seniority.

“While most companies were still reluctant to offer remote working even a few years ago, the survey shows that there is definitely a mindset shift taking place.”

Naidoo said some of the main reasons cited by the companies polled included:

The need to attract or retain tech talent that would otherwise go to a more flexible competitor.

The ability to reduce overall infrastructure costs.

The impact on employee wellness as a result of better work-life balance.

Enhanced productivity flowing from the fact that employees who are afforded flexibility are not limited to basic office hours to get the work done.

Most companies, however, made it clear that some in-office presence was still required, predominantly where meetings needed to be conducted face to face, and also to maintain a sense of connection and team cohesion.

Naidoo said the growth of remote- working teams was impacting the way in which managers led people, who these days seldom work in the same office, and might go weeks - or months - without in-person meetings.

“Managing and leading remote teams is a new skill that needs to be developed and taught in business schools,” said Naidoo.

THE MERCURY