Companies can at last dip their toes into a truly global talent pool without necessarily having to ask a potential new employee to change cities or countries.


While the office premises will always be a feature of working life for most companies, it seems now that the future of work has arrived and is with us today. Work is no longer something that can only – or mostly – take place in a traditional office space.

Advancements in technology, combined with more flexible attitudes, mean that remote and hybrid work models are being offered by many more organisations today, giving employees greater independence and control over their work environments.

And as with most things in life, these new parameters bring their own sets of challenges and advantages.


On the Positive Side

Remote and hybrid work models allow organisations to tap into a significantly broader talent pool. When remote and / or hybrid arrangements are put on the table, companies can employ people who live a significant distance away from the office – even in another part of the country or the world.

This type of flexible employer/employee relationship was much scarcer in the past, and arguably even impossible for most companies.

So you want to employ an expert in their field who lives in the UK, or the UAE, or even Upington, but your head office is in Sandton? No problem – the time zones here are all similar, so it’s all Under Control. Remote working means it’s possible to hire in the person you really want to strengthen your team.

Looking at people in the US and Australia – Down Under – is of course a different story when it comes to time zones, but depending on the type of work required, tapping into a truly global office is no longer impossible – it just takes organisational skills and a flexible outlook.

Companies can at last dip their toes into a truly global talent pool without necessarily having to ask a potential new employee to change cities or countries.

From the employees’ perspective, they can avoid arduous daily commutes to and from work, and gain back more quality time for their personal lives, as well as working in a more flexible home space than occurs in your average office (the couch springs to mind).

And for the employer, once again, happy employees tend to be more productive employees who are more inclined to stay with a company that is more flexible – so this means less employee turnover.

There are many ways in which these positives feed into a virtuous cycle: employees who are happy because they have a flexible work arrangement tend to work harder and are more productive. This in turn pleases the employer, who is then more inclined to continue with flexible arrangements. On the surface, it seems like a great recipe for success.


Disadvantages to Remote or Hybrid Work

However, there are also challenges to contend with. Communication and collaboration can become more complex in remote and hybrid settings, especially when team members are scattered across different locations and time zones.

In addition, building and maintaining a solid company culture in a virtual environment can be difficult without regular face-to-face interaction.

It also needs to be noted that not everyone wants to work from home, at least all the time: some employees may struggle with feelings of isolation, which can actually lower their levels of engagement and productivity. Alternatively, there might be too many distractions at home preventing them from doing their best work (other people, a noisy environment outside the home, easy access to their favourite shows – there’s the couch again…).

In South Africa, of course, we also have regular load shedding to contend with, which can add in further permutations around working from home for employees – not everyone can afford a UPS to keep their devices switched on and connected when the power goes off.


Being Proactive

To thrive in this new reality, organisations are well-advised to prioritise their employees’ work experience. This has always been common sense for any company that wants to avoid a high staff turnover, but as the UK and the US found out after Covid during the ‘Great Resignation’ period, many employees got used to working from home, and then voted with their boots when they were given ultimatums to return to the office.

As noted in this online HR article: ‘The pandemic changed many people’s expectations of work – and many were prepared to quit if their employer wasn’t ready to meet those expectations.’

In South Africa, of course, we have different scenarios playing out, including the ever-present threat of load shedding as well as high unemployment rates, and so perhaps we didn’t experience the Great Resignation quite as much as in other parts of the globe. By and large, we could assume that the so-called Great Resignation in South Africa is ‘ring-fenced in the professional and specialist roles that are scarce skills in the market’.

But it still provides food for thought: namely, that keeping your employees happy – or at least showing that you are trying to listen to their concerns – can help to keep your staff numbers stable. This would involve trying to address the specific needs and preferences of remote and hybrid workers, while also ensuring that they feel valued and connected to the organisation’s mission and culture. A proactive approach to communication, performance assessment and technology is vital.

From a technology perspective, Vox can help with your connectivity and power requirements, through our vast range of solutions including fibre, voice, failover and UPS offerings.

As the future of work continues to evolve in the present, Long Live Working From The Couch.

At least sometimes.