Remote work opportunities are on the rise in South Africa.

The hybrid work model presents a great opportunity for all businesses – big and small.

Greig Smith, CEO of Saongroup Africa – Pnet says the hybrid work model is here to stay.

“‘Flexible’, ‘hybrid’ and ‘remote’ are no longer just buzzwords in the corporate world. They are now firmly embedded models in the employment landscape, and potential deal-breakers for many of South Africa’s top talent when it comes to applying for jobs,” Greig says.

“We’re living in interesting times. Many businesses have now been back to work with their new models in place for several months and Pnet’s latest data reveals how this is playing out.”

According to Greig, the South African job market is showing a growing number of remote work opportunities, with remote job offers more than tripling since the first quarter of 2021. He says since March 2020, remote job opportunities have grown more than 22 times.

“Year-on-year, remote working opportunities have increased by 160 percent – so it’s safe to say that remote work is here to stay,” he says. “While remote/hybrid work can be seen as a great risk, it also presents a great opportunity for organisations of all sizes.”

He says remote working is unlikely to disappear because many businesses have already invested in remote working technology to attract top talent and reduce office overhead costs.

“It does appear, however, that certain professions seem to provide more remote employment opportunities than others. In South Africa, the roles with the most remote job opportunities are currently information technology, business and management and admin, office and support. Our data reveals that South Africa is currently experiencing a skills shortage, particularly in sectors such as information technology.”

Candidates in very high demand, Grieg says, are more likely to demand remote/hybrid working opportunities.

He notes that hybrid work is not possible for all roles. This he says can negatively impact diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. “One of the biggest challenges companies will face in the remote/hybrid structure will be creating a work experience that is fair and equal for all employees – regardless of where they are situated.

“Employers who fail to treat remote employees fairly will risk reputational damage that may affect their brand and bottom line as well as their recruitment efforts,” Greig warns. “It is therefore crucial to alleviate bias by providing managers (especially hiring managers) with formal training to help them understand and overcome their unconscious biases.

“It’s also a good idea to offer some degree of flexibility for both office-based and remote/hybrid employees. If you enable in-office employees to choose their preferred office hours, you are less likely to spend time wondering about the productivity levels of the staff who work from home.”

He says a successful hybrid structure requires a new way of thinking from an employer. “At the very least, you’ll need to review your current EVP and HR strategy. Many employees have had a taste of flexibility over the past two years and companies that keep this going – at least to some degree – are more likely to attract and retain quality candidates."