KFC's Cheryl Whitaker says Covid-19 has enabled a mindset shift


Cheryl says the pandemic has impacted their head office differently from their restaurants.

As a fast-food chain, KFC has not been able to do any of their core businesses remotely but Cheryl Whitaker, HR director at KFC South Africa, says that, from a head office perspective, they have made some great strides in shifting the mindset about the future world of work.

Two years ago, the company introduced a policy was called 'ditch the desk' which was all about flexible working and being able to be productive regardless of the location from which our employees were working, but there was quite a bit of resistance to change in the sense that there were a lot of old-school ways of thinking that needed to be debunked within the organisation.

"We worked to change the mindset that people need to be seen in the office to be perceived as being productive and, since Covid, we have completed that mission because everyone, from the most senior leadership, downwards has seen how much more productive people can be when working from home," says Cheryl, adding that they have opened up their head office to a maximum of 20 people and have since seen huge cost savings.

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Based purely on the fact that people are not at the office, Cheryl says expenses for consumables like paper and cleaning products have gone down remarkably.
"On a personal note, I have made the adjustment and today I had a desk and bookshelf installed in one of the rooms in our home, and I really feel like I can now continue working from home indefinitely," she jokes.
That said, KFC has a lot of franchisees and, in the past, the company invested a lot of time and resources with them to give them insight into the organisational culture. We have had to think differently about how we do this and be intentional about adjusting our communication strategy and restaurant visits. This too has shown that we can adapt to the right mindset.

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