Covid-19: Surviving working from home
Chief executive of the Tshwane Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Pieter du Doit, said not all companies could pull this off, as working from home varied from company to company.
“IT-linked companies would experience no problems with this set-up. But service, hospitality and manufacturing companies need a more hands-on approach,” he said.
He said the CBD had a lot of retailers which could not pull off working from home. Staff had to be ever-present to render services.
He said some companies, especially in the east of Pretoria, were more IT-oriented, so they could easily work from home, which some had been doing even before the Covid-19 outbreak.
And this was the right time for media workers, especially journalists, who worked on the field. “Now more than ever they have this role of constantly educating the public, without even setting foot in the office,” he said.
Some companies have started subsidising broadband costs and there is a shortage of laptops as firms bulk buy in preparation for home working among employees who normally work on desktop computers.
Vivi Ho Quang of GumtreeSA, heads a home-shoring team, an alternative to offshoring, where contact teams operate from their houses to cut costs. She has some advice for South Africans that are setting up home offices for the first time.
“It is important to keep your work and leisure space separate. If you don't you will find yourself working during your personal time (and vice versa). A small desk in the corner of a spare bedroom is perfect.
“Physical boundaries also help you if you have small children - they need to be taught that when the office door is closed, it means you're working and can't be disturbed.
“Mentally, it's also important to put on office clothes every day, as staying in your pyjamas is tempting. Dressing up sets the mood for the day.”
In terms of equipment, one does not need much more than good lighting, a chair that promotes good posture and great wi-fi. “If you are going to use the phone a lot, it's worth investing in a headset or noise-cancelling headphones,” she said.
The biggest concern was load shedding, which could disrupt connectivity.
The president of the United Domestic Workers of SA Pinky Mashiane said their members were being told to stay away in adherence to the social distancing call. Mashiane said employers needed to act responsibly if they asked domestic workers not to come to work. She urged employers to put their agreements with domestic workers in writing.
She said domestic workers registered with the UIF must claim unemployment benefits during this time.
Mashiane claimed that the Department of Labour had not consulted with unions regarding the impact of the coronavirus.