Why SA employers are still reluctant to offer flexible working conditions

New research from Citrix sites a lack of trust and technological infrastructures as key reasons.

New research from Citrix reveals that less than half of South African employers offer their employees the option of working flexibly.  The study, which was commissioned by Citrix and conducted by research firm OnePoll, questioned 250 IT decision-makers across South African organisations. The research, which investigates the relationship between employee productivity, flexible working and the use of technology, highlights that South African organisations still need to overcome trust issues to implement a full-fledged flexible working environment.

“Of the 48 percent of respondents that confirmed they offer their employees the option of working flexibly, 27 percent of them leave the final decision in the hands of the team managers. Meanwhile 15 percent said that only certain departments can work flexibly, and 12 precent said that only more senior staff can work flexibly,” reads press statement from Citrix.

Even though an overwhelming majority of respondens (98 percent) agree that technology increases employee productivity, almost 80 percent still believe that their employees are more productive in a central office environment as compared to working remotely. 

Futhermore, 74 percent of those who polled say that they are investing in cloud technology to primarily improve data security and enhance document control, followed by 61 percent investing in cloud tech to save costs, and only 59% looking at using the tech to offer flexible working to their employees. 

"Historically, South African businesses have preferred employees working from their offices. The research findings suggest that one of the main reasons for this is a lack of trust between management and their employees, with 61 percent saying that this hinders flexible working in South Africa. However, there are winds of change in the background with 93 pecent of decision-makers agreeing that flexible working, enabled by the right technology, increases productivity and agility."

Other major hindrances to the adoption of a flexible working culture are a lack of technological infrastructure, hardware and software (60 percent), cybersecurity threats due to human error (52 percent), and organisations themselves not being able to fully comprehend the business benefits (52 percent).

However, this contrasts with the variety of reasons that organisations are under more pressure to offer a flexible working environment with 61 percent of respondents attributing it to external factors such as rising urbanisation and traffic congestion, which are viewed as the main driving force behind flexible working in South Africa.