Being unplugged should not necessarily translate to being unproductive, writes Ruth Shogoe, HR executive at Maskew Miller Learning
While South Africa remains Africa’s second biggest economy, the country remains susceptible to the global contagion of interest rate hikes as well as declining commodity prices. The current South African economy faces multiple challenges with a bleak growth outlook for Gross Domestic Product.
The task at hand calls for all citizens to be solution-minded. Some key increased socio-economic challenges are inflation, low consumer and business confidence, labour disputes, increased household debt amid climate change issues, and an unprecedented energy crisis.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, most organisations opted to shut down their physical offices and resorted to remote and hybrid ways of working. This request resulted in employees having to ensure that the necessary infrastructure was in place. Some of the prerequisites were to have access to power supply, equipment and internet access for most roles.
While the move to remote and hybrid working arrangements resulted in certain benefits, the implementation of loadshedding created a new challenge for employers to manage in the modern workplace.
Being productive while unplugged
The South African electricity crisis has been ongoing since 2007 and continues today, making it harder to work from home. A recent March 2023 South African blackout online survey conducted among employers confirmed that there was a 45% decrease in work productivity due to the impact of loadshedding.
What does this mean for the new way of working, especially in scenarios where employees are employed in a fully remote role? And is enough self-development exercised by employees to solve loadshedding on a day-to-day basis?
Despite all that is happening with the energy crisis, the onus is on the employee to ensure that they have continuity to deliver their services while the employer regulates their working arrangement. The basics of planning according to the loadshedding schedule will come in handy in achieving this goal.
There is undoubtedly an opportunity for employees to ensure as much performance and business continuity as possible. As a result, Covid-19 unlocked a lever for alternative ways of working, based on mutual trust. Perhaps it is time to pay it forward in this work environment with a few recommendations to be taken into consideration to ensure business continuity.
In a technologically competitive era, being unplugged should not necessarily translate to being unproductive. Below are some tips on how to stay productive during unplugged loadshedding schedules:
- Plan according to the loadshedding schedule.
- Pre-plan for offline work by ensuring equipment is fully charged prior to schedule.
- Take a break, read and apply one’s thinking to prioritise key tasks, e.g., brainstorming or ideation sessions.
- Work through administrative tasks, e.g., paperwork or electronic filing.
- Constantly back up files on cloud storage while online so as to access them offline.
- Track progress of work and review your to-do list
- Create a ‘not to do’ list and include anything that distracts you from achieving your goals.
- Build relationships with unplugged activities.
- Set up physical collaborative meetings with colleagues.
As a last resort, find a shared space or simply return to the office where possible.Simply put, this may be a 360-degree season, contrary to global trends. South Africa may just be experiencing an emerging peak of the return to office initiatives in 2023, considering the loadshedding. Let us remember to shed the load (connect with others and vent lightly) every now and then, as we are in it together.