Tag: flexibility

By Faeeza Khan for Flux Trends

The earlier months of the pandemic saw younger workers moving from mostly service-based industries to better paying positions or relying on government subsidies in what has been dubbed ‘The Great Resignation’. Since then the US has begun to see a shift towards older workers mostly in permanent positions, particularly knowledge workers, resigning in what is now being dubbed ‘The Great Midlife Crisis’ by Columbia Business School professor Adam Galinsky. He says, “At the midpoint of life, we become aware of our own mortality, and it allows us to reflect on what really matters to us.” The pandemic has amplified this phenomenon. Dan Springer, the CEO of DocuSign, suggests that leaders are looking at this in the wrong way and that it should be reframed as what can businesses do to attract staff instead of what can they do to stop them from leaving in the first place. He calls this ‘The Great Embrace’.

Quirky, novelty benefits such as sleep pods and ping pong tables are less important to workers in the current post-pandemic landscape. People are resigning for more substantial benefits such as flexibility and meaning. The cost of failing to understand the needs of the workforce is a loss of access to the best and brightest talent. Employees will resign in the search for better benefits or meaning, and new employees may be difficult to attract. Mandating that workers return to the office, for example, has been facing a backlash from employees, the vast majority of whom, according to research, prefer more flexibility.

Businesses need to clearly understand what their employees need and offer them benefits accordingly; the most significant one being added flexibility. Consider a more hybrid approach instead of mandating employees back to the office, and offer employees the support they need to work effectively remotely. The pandemic has given people a taste of remote work and employees are not ready to give this up. Workers are choosing companies whose mission aligns with their personal values. Businesses should consider taking a stand on important societal issues which will attract and retain staff who support these causes. Overall, being supportive of a healthy work life balance will go a long way towards keeping employees happy.


By The Bharat Express News

New data from Microsoft shows a clear shift in South African work habits over the past year, as what employees expect from work and what they are willing to give back has changed dramatically.

“We are simply not the same people who returned home to work at the start of 2020. Employees in South Africa are rethinking what they expect from work and voting with their feet when these new expectations are not met.

“The challenge facing every organisation is to adapt to changing employee priorities while balancing business outcomes in an unpredictable economy,” says Colin Erasmus, director of modern workplace and security at Microsoft South Africa.

Microsoft data shows four key labor trends in South Africa right now.

It’s not worth coming to the office

While most employees in South Africa are supportive of the idea of ​​a hybrid working model, data shows that people are generally unsure when to come to the office and why. Many employees also find the commute unnecessary and prefer to spend valuable time with family.

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“That means leaders face a key challenge – make the office worth the trip. The data reveals, however, that few companies around the world have created new team norms, such as hybrid work meeting etiquette, to ensure time spent together is intentional.

“The biggest opportunity for business leaders is to rethink the role of the office and clarify why, when, and how often teams should meet in person,” Microsoft said.

Is it worth it?

Perhaps one of the most valuable insights from the index is that employees have a new “worthwhile equation” and are more likely to prioritise health and wellness at work than before the pandemic.

This is particularly the case in South Africa, which is part of a region where 50% of employees report a high sense of daily stress, Microsoft said.

“It’s also clear that employees are acting on this new priority to achieve a better work-life balance. In fact, more than half of employees in the broader Middle East and North Africa region say they will prioritise a new job in 2022.”

Big disconnect

“Managers feel stuck between leadership and employee expectations. They think leaders are disconnected from employees and don’t feel empowered to help their teams. Employees agree, with about 84% of workers across the region saying they are not engaged,” Microsoft said.

The group noted that managers can help bridge changing employee expectations and leadership priorities, but according to the data, most lack the influence and resources to make changes. on behalf of their team.

In fact, nearly 70% of managers in the Middle East and Africa say they struggle to empower their employees, Microsoft said.

Flexibility versus always on

Although employees appreciate their new flexibility, there is still a need to combat digital burnout.

Leaders in South Africa are reporting productivity levels equal to or better than before the pandemic, but this has hurt employees’ work-life balance.

For the average Teams user, meetings, chat, length of the workday, and working after hours and on weekends have all increased over the past two years. In fact, since February 2020, the average Teams user has seen a 252% increase in their weekly meeting time.

“If leaders want to give employees true flexibility, they need to focus on activities rather than impact. Opinions about productivity are changing and according to the Work Trend Index, most employees believe it’s important for employers to reward the impact on hours worked,” Microsoft said.


The disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has raised many questions and resulted in countless articles about business relevance, resilience, purpose and longevity. Uncertainty is the only certainty, and what might have been a realistic ten-year plan two years ago, may well seem ridiculous today.

Yet, businesses concerned with their long-term survival still need to navigate the uncertainty and plan for the future. Terms like “agility” and “adaptability” have become favourites to bandy about but long-term business success requires far more than an acknowledgement of the need to be flexible.

Industry leaders who prioritise the question of business longevity as a strategic prerogative shared some of their insights.

Relevance is always a priority

Even a business that’s been around for half a century can’t ever afford to rest on its laurels. Teljoy, today the country’s foremost rent to own provider, made a name for itself in the 1970s when they offered South Africans the opportunity to rent a television to partake in the excitement of TV finally coming to our shores.

“We’ve been around for a long time and the business has inevitably evolved over the years. It’s thanks to this evolution that we remain not just alive today, but more relevant than ever,” says Jonathan Hurvitz, Teljoy CEO.

Central to Teljoy’s strategic thinking is the understanding that the brand is in the business of offering consumers access to items they need. “It’s not about the fridge or the microwave or the laptop per se, but rather about a business model that solves a particular customer need in a way that aligns to what the contemporary consumer needs, wants and expects from a brand,” Hurvitz explains.

The product or service offering can easily be changed or adapted, or even discarded, but as a business it’s key to focus on the value proposition first and foremost, as the product or service is merely a fulfillment of the value proposition.

Engage evolving consumer needs

Reagen Kok, CEO of digital transformation agency Hoorah Digital, agrees that longevity and relevance is always a strategic business concern. “Particularly in the creative industries where it is easy to fall victim to the ‘flavour of the month’ trap – you’re only as good as your last campaign, after all.”

He explains that, instead, Hoorah’s approach is to ensure they’re always engaging with the evolving needs, desires and preferences of the consumer. “A keen awareness (and anticipation!) of social and cultural trends and nuances are a key part of playing the long game. Our relevance is reflected in our ability to appropriately respond to the prevailing zeitgeist, while ensuring our approach is supported by efficient business structures.”

Data plays a key role too, and increasingly so for businesses across industries. “The right data can be invaluable in informing business decisions, processes and forward planning to see you win in the long run,” Kok says.

Foster a culture of learning

According to McKinsey, up to 375 million workers will need to change occupations by 2030. McKinsey also predicts that in about 60% of occupations, at least one-third of the constituent activities could be automated, implying substantial workplace transformations and changes for all workers.

In uncertain times, it’s important to surround yourself with a skilled workforce that can adapt to change. Fostering a culture of learning will help you prepare for unforeseen challenges.

“It’s important to recognise the importance of the workforce generational shift, “says Edmund Dueck, VP of Sales EMEA at Liferay. “Engaging millennials, reskilling the workforce, and investing in corporate learning are all new and significant considerations that will continue to be relevant.

“Upskilling and reskilling are vital for a highly competitive and evolving business environment, making them both critical elements of a powerful business strategy that is future-proof,” he says.

The whole is the sum of the parts

A successful business is the culmination of a balanced focus on both the big-picture goal for the organisation and a commitment to ensuring that the day-to-day activities of the business run smoothly, efficiently, profitably and ultimately serve the larger objectives.

“It’s easy to become consumed by the minutiae of running a business, where the focus is simply getting the most pressing work done,” says Hayley van der Woude, Managing Director at public relations and integrated marketing agency Irvine Partners. “Striking the right balance between sweating the day-to-day details while keeping an eye on the long-term vision is key, and has been an important part of our own success over the past 11 years. We’ve found that it helps when strategic big-picture thinking is an active part of the KPIs of certain team members. In addition, balance and workflow are important so team members are empowered to step back from their daily grind and think critically and creatively,” she says.

Considering that only some 33% of new businesses make it past the ten-year mark it is crucial to engage the question of longevity, relevance and resilience, particularly at a time when it has been proved that the only constant is change.

By Thandazani Ngwenya, client executive at 21st Century

There is a lot of research about the varied needs and world views of different generations. In this article, a working millennial discusses how work looks through his eyes and what has changed in comparison to how his parents did it.

The age of instant gratification

I am in month three of the world of work, in my first job and an excited employee. As a millennial, flexibility, accessibility, ease and instant gratification are part of our ‘genetic make-up’.

The very first work experience

Technology and its advancements are very familiar to me. Growing up in the digital age meant that a large portion of my relationships, both personal and professional, were established online. My career, in terms of how I positioned myself, was conducted on a virtual basis; for instance, via LinkedIn, and unlike my parents’ era, I was not confined to physically having to deliver my CV. My job search was made easier by access to technology.

This is an element that I have come to associate with my current world of work, where seeking and starting work during the global pandemic meant that relationships were established on a virtual basis. I met the majority of my colleagues via platforms like Zoom and Microsoft teams. The relationships were not difficult to establish or maintain. In fact, I believe these circumstances made people more accessible at all levels of the organisation, including management.

Being raised in the digital age made me accustomed to a life that is characterised by access, increased usability, and to a degree, instant gratification. These are characteristics and expectations I have brought to my workspace.

Was it different to what you expected? In what way?

It was VERY different! I grew up observing not only my parents but extended family and their friends, donning three-piece suits for interviews, having to physically submit CVs to HR representatives and attending activities such as interviews and onboarding/orientation in person to outline a few elements.

Transitioning from university into the real world with that as the basis for how I have come to see the working world was quickly displaced by technological advancements and the COVID pandemic. For starters, my interview was conducted virtually, and I had attended a funeral on the same day, which prompted me to conduct my interview from a car in a different province than that of my prospective place of employment.

This scenario embodies my attributes as a millennial. It was convenient, easy (not bound to the traditional brick and mortar confines) and allowed for flexibility. When I got the job, my orientation into the organisation followed a similarly flexible path. It was conducted both virtually and in person. And because of the remote element, I had the opportunity to form relationships with some of my colleagues that I would not have ordinarily had access to.

The hierarchical divide I expected was not the same as how previous generations described it. The channels of access were opened immensely, with immediate access to executives and management.

My outputs were within my control, as if I had become the CEO of my own enterprise, motivated to produce work and achieve optimal results, not because of constant supervision but because I was driven. For me, I believe this is an important responsibility when flexibility and an excess in freedom is introduced.

I have come to understand the culture of my new company, and see that it is likely I would have experienced a non-hierarchical entity in any event. But I have been impressed at the adaptability and strength of relationships and culture, particularly at this early stage of my employment.

As days roll into nights, into weeks, months, years… we are prone to changes at the core of our existence as humans, having to adapt as life evolves. Society at large is not immune to this evolution and the world of work is vastly different from the way it was introduced to me from a spectator’s point of view.

What does it all mean?

Flexibility in today’s world of work for me is indicative of an ability to structure my life in the way that I see fit. For instance, I have been able to dabble in online courses in between my breaks, learning new skills on YouTube or just spend time reading a book.

A flexible work structure takes away the notion of surveillance, and with that, an ability to accurately measure productivity in its traditional sense. As a millennial, I feel like a CEO of my own job, where flexibility has given me the ability to take responsibility and become the ‘boss’ of myself. My pay is influenced by everything I do every day; my job satisfaction is up to me; my learning and development is in my own hands.

Accessibility as an element of my ‘genetic make-up’ is experienced in the way that the communication lines between myself, my superiors and my colleagues have opened up, replacing the hierarchy I expected with a harmonious openness and access to other team members.

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