Nowadays, work is more of a process than a place to go. We owe a debt of gratitude to three South Africans working in the UK at present for giving us this timely and valuable piece of information. Working from home has become more popular than the standard 9-to-5 office job.
Michelle Botha on the British Approach to Working from Home
St. Helena Bay native Michelle Botha has made the transition to working from home for Mustard Foods, a London-based firm that distributes meals and sauces to high-end dining establishments across the United Kingdom.
Botha relies heavily on his reliable internet connection and constant power supply to get his remote work done, especially during periods when the electricity is intermittently shut off. She also recommends keeping an up-to-date online resume and being readily available for meetings or talks.
Working remotely presents a small language barrier, but she finds the increased productivity, better work-life balance, and decreased distractions to be well worth the effort. She went on to say, “We speak the same language, but the different pronunciation can come as a shock to a rookie South African.”
Gemma Garman is in Charge of International Groups
Design and Content Manager at a London-based events agency Gemma Garman finds it encouraging that British workplaces value work-life balance more than their American counterparts. She thinks COVID-19 has been essential in helping businesses accept and adapt to remote labour.
Garman stresses the need for a positive work environment and dependable WiFi. She adds that if a potential employer has reservations about you working remotely, you can ease their minds by showing that you can handle things on your own. Changing your work schedule to accommodate your employer’s needs is a minor drawback of working remotely, especially when weighed against the many advantages.
Your Virtual Assistant, Saneah Dolley
Saneah Dolley is a Personal Assistant for a Director in the United Kingdom, although she makes her home in Cape Town. Having a young child in the house has made her realize the importance of striking a balance between her work and home life. She loves that her profession doesn’t require her to dress formally.
When it comes to the hard work that is expected by UK businesses, though, Dolley pulls no punches. She stresses the significance of workers in South Africa sharing the same levels of motivation, dedication, and availability as their British counterparts.
It’s not all perks and no downsides when you work for a UK-based corporation from South Africa. It necessitates the availability of suitable resources and a suitable frame of mind, as well as a commitment to adapting to new work culture and set of expectations. If you have dependable Internet, a power backup system, and the drive to succeed, you may be able to work for a UK company from the comfort of your own home in South Africa.
The Climate of Remote Working in South Africa
This evaluation can contextually fit into the article after the ‘Conclusion’ section, providing an additional layer of context about the remote working climate in South Africa based on the experiences and advice shared by the three professionals.
The New Norm
In the wake of the global pandemic, the work culture globally, including in South Africa, underwent a radical transformation. To curb the spread of the virus, many companies were forced to adapt to a remote work setup, a trend that has continued even as the world gradually recovers. A survey conducted by the International Workplace Group (IWG) found that 89% of South African respondents believe flexible working has become the ‘new norm’.
Infrastructure and Connectivity
One of the critical pillars for effective remote working is robust and reliable infrastructure, particularly connectivity. According to a State of the Internet report, South Africa ranks 76th out of 177 countries for mobile internet speed, which may pose a challenge for remote work. Load shedding and internet interruptions are issues that workers must navigate around.
However, there has been an increased investment in connectivity infrastructure in the country. Major cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban have seen a surge in fiber broadband connections, improving internet accessibility and reliability for remote workers.
Skills and Attitude
South Africans are known for their resilience and adaptability, two crucial qualities for successful remote work. However, as Saneah Dolley points out, there is a need for the South African workforce to emulate the strong work ethic and dedication demonstrated by their UK counterparts. Moreover, the ability to communicate effectively in a digital setting and maintain productivity despite the physical distance from team members are essential skills remote workers must develop.
Opportunities and Challenges
Remote work has opened up international opportunities for South African professionals, as demonstrated by Michelle Botha, Gemma Garman, and Saneah Dolley. They have proven that geographical distance is no longer a barrier to working with companies based in other countries, like the UK.
On the flip side, this shift presents challenges such as maintaining a healthy work-life balance, adjusting to different time zones, and managing potential isolation and mental health issues. While the current climate of remote work in South Africa presents a mix of opportunities and challenges, the trend is unmistakably on the rise. South African professionals willing to adapt and equip themselves with the necessary skills and infrastructure will find a world of opportunities awaiting them in the remote work landscape.
About The Author:
Lebohang Mokoena is an award-winning journalist with over a decade of experience in business reporting. She specializes in innovation and technology in South Africa and beyond. Lebohang holds a Master’s degree in Journalism and has previously worked for top-tier publications before joining Africa Nova.