Join the Business Day Dialogues LIVE to discuss the benefits of a hybrid working solution. Picture: SUPPLIED/CORPORATE IMAGE
Join the Business Day Dialogues LIVE to discuss the benefits of a hybrid working solution. Picture: SUPPLIED/CORPORATE IMAGE

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Even at a time when we are obliged to socially distance with the benefit of pervasive technology to keep us connected, the need for in-person human engagement remains something we yearn for.

This need is being felt particularly among those who relied on a dedicated office or workspace for daily interaction, and it’s asking businesses to take a fresh approach on how they provide safe, collaborative environments for their people.

Despite the lockdown-induced working-from-home phenomenon, the office remains an important space for collaboration and creativity where business performance and personal career development can be bolstered. But the purpose of the office, and what constitutes one, needs to be redefined.

Admittedly, the availability and accessibility of technology has allowed for a rapid shift from the traditional work environment to one where businesses can continue their operations with a distributed workforce. It has been what necessity has demanded. However, 18 months after SA first went into Covid-19 lockdown, it has become clearer that the isolation of  working from home is stretching human resilience to its limits.

A recent online survey by the SA Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) reports 65% of South Africans believe their mental health has declined during lockdown. There are numerous factors at play in this regard: issues about job security; financial commitments; making ends meet on reduced pay cheques; panic about personal health and safety; and concerns about the welfare of loved ones.

Survey reports 65% of South Africans believe their mental health has declined during lockdown

In addition, the stresses that come from operating in a working-from-home environment also sees people struggling to juggle childcare with having to meet their professional key performance indicators, all in isolation. For many, this has felt unrelenting, making an opportunity to meet colleagues outside the home one that is welcomed and deeply productive.

Recognising the long-term impact of a purely working-from-home approach on mental wellbeing, productivity and creativity, and the benefits of collaboration, many businesses are looking to create a new model that prioritises these aspects, while maintaining the safety of their workforce.

The new workplace “normal” appears to be taking the shape of a hybrid working solution — one where employees have options to work remotely, but also use other available spaces for collaboration and meetings.

Join Joanne Joseph at the Business Day Dialogues LIVE as she speaks to a panel of experts to discuss the benefits of a hybrid working solution: where an office that provides mentorship, coaching, technology, resources and a sense of community can seamlessly integrate with working-from-home requirements during the pandemic.

The future of the South African office

You’ll hear from:

  • Francois Viruly, associate professor, University of Cape Town;
  • Akona Ngcuka, commercial executive, Bidvest;
  • Rob Kane, CEO, Boxwood Properties;
  • Dr Colinda Linde, psychologist, SADAG; and
  • Linda Trim, director, Giant Leap.

Date: September 29

Time: 10am- 11am

 

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