South Africans’ preference for working from home much higher than the global average

The dtic says the growing local business process services sector is evidence of what SA has to offer.

A new study Decoding Global Ways of Working by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Network, including local partner organisation CareerJunction, says that South Africa has emerged as one of the countries that would embrace fully remote work, with 44 percent saying they want to work fully remotely compared to a global average of 24 percent.

BCG Johannesburg principal and recruiting director Rudi van Blerk said the pandemic significantly changed how people think about their work.

“Workers and managers alike have seen that flexible work models are possible, and in fact desirable, with only 4 percent of South Africans saying they would want to return to working completely on-site at an office after the pandemic.”

The report also highlights that many South Africans in digital, knowledge and office jobs, are already working remotely, and want more workplace flexibility on a permanent basis and would even consider going fully remote.

The marketing and communication industry leads the charge, with 62.5 percent saying they would prefer to move to a fully remote mode of working.

“Even study participants who have jobs that require the handling of physical goods, or contact with clients, expressed a desire for set-ups that would allow them to work remotely at least occasionally. Nearly 60 percent – 57 percent – of social care workers in South Africa said they would move to work remotely,” the study said.

The report also found that 61 percent of South African respondents would like some or full flexibility in defining their working hours.

“This is in line with the global average of 64 percent. The majority of workers in all job roles also show a strong desire for this flexibility to extend beyond the pandemic,” it said.

Rudi said South African respondents felt a generally positive impact of Covid-19 on the way they work, particularly in terms of the flexibility in when and how to work, the use of digital tools, effectiveness and team collaboration.

“The only exception was work-life balance, where the impact reported was negative. The overall impact was worse in physical or social contact jobs, like social care, manual work, and customer service – but it was positive for knowledge/digital jobs,” he said.