Tag: working from home

Source: MyBroadband

With many people working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses have turned to remote monitoring software – also called tattleware – to get insights into worker productivity.

Typically, these programs allow companies to get an analysis of the time users spend on certain online tasks.

This is then compared with with other staff members who have the same work responsibilities.

In addition, certain programs can track inputs on the keyboard, movements of the mouse, take screenshots of a user’s computer, and even be used to read social media messages.

According to estimates from research firm Gartner, around 80% of companies worldwide have introduced a form of remote monitoring software on their employees’ computers.

Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr director of employee practice Phetheni Nkuna told City Press that the influx of tattleware has been particularly noticeable in the US – but it will likely spill over to South Africa.

Nkuna warned businesses they would have to ensure they did not infringe on employee privacy when using this software.

“In South Africa, no law is absolute – there are limits. It will be interesting to see how the courts handle such cases,” Nkuna said.

Only 4% want to return to the office
The impact of the switch to remote working as a COVID-19 safety measure is likely to remain long after the pandemic has passed, particularly in South Africa.

According to a recent study from Boston Consulting Group (BCG), The Network, and CareerJunction, only 4% of South Africans want to work completely on-site at an office after the pandemic.

Over 53% of South African respondents said they would prefer a job which permitted them to work from home on occasion, while 44% said they wanted to work fully remotely.

“Workers and managers alike have seen that flexible work models are possible, and in fact desirable,” said BCG Johannesburg principal and recruiting director Rudi van Blerk

Sales in laptops, stationery and toasters boom

Source: Business Insider SA

Between January and August 2020, South Africans newly working from home showed a serious appetite for office equipment and stationery, with year-on-year growth of 83% recorded.

Of South Africans who buy online, 52% now own laptops, compared to 40% last year.

But broadly speaking, technology sales weren’t great during lockdown, the latest market insight from consumer experts GfK South Africa shows – despite the work-from-home boom. In the first quarter of 2020, technical goods showed a 1% year-on year increase in sales, then revenues plummeted by 25% during hard lockdown (April to July), when the sale of non-essential goods were banned.

South Africans, it appears, had to improvise, or do without.

The move to Alert Level 4 in May saw a sudden surge in demand for smartphones, tablets and small domestic appliances.

“Consumers snapped up appliances for making quick meals and drinks, including toasters, sandwich makers, coffee machines and microwaves,” says Nicolet Pienaar, head of market insights at GfK South Africa. “Performance for content creation devices such as laptops and tablets was strong, since sharing a device between people in the household was not an option in a time of remote working and home schooling.”

These isolated gains in the technical consumer goods market coincided with 10% revenue growth associated with small domestic appliances and 8% in mid-level information technology systems. But those were offset by steep declines in the supply of multifunctional technical goods, photographic equipment, and telecommunications.

Retailers were quick to capitalise on the announcement of Level 2 lockdown in August, redoubling promotional activity and running tailored marketing campaigns.

That seems to bode well for the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotional period.

“After a gruelling year that has hit many South Africans in the pocket, we’re expecting to see demand from two types of consumer over Black Friday: the reset spender, looking for genuine bargains after months of holding back and the revenue spender, looking for deals that let them trade up to premium products,” says Pienaar.

Comparative growth in the second quarter of 2020 is expected to boom, with 69% of brick and mortar retailers anticipating Black Friday sales to be at least as good as they were last year. Additionally, 36% of online retailers anticipate that Cyber Monday will be at least as good as last year, and 36% expect it to be better.

For some people working from home is a regular practice, but for most of us it’s a new way of working and presents new challenges – especially if you are with family who are now at home too.

Isla Galloway-Gaul, MD of Inspiration Office, says: “People are all at once discovering the benefits and frustrations of remote work. But you can take cues from great workplaces. You’ll get more done and feel better when your technology, space and the ways you need to work come together. Working from home should be no different.”

Here are some practical tips about how to improve the work from home experience.

Establish and stick to boundaries

It’s tempting to be “on” constantly when you work from home. Others find being home distracting and challenging to stay focused and productive. “Identifying boundaries can help you maintain a healthy and productive balance. Decide on your schedule each day and try to stick to it,” Galloway-Gaul advised.

Be transparent

If you are not at your computer, be sure to communicate that with your colleagues. Make your calendar visible to your team, update your status in any team/collaboration software you use or even leverage your out-of-office auto reply. Let your team know when you’re going to be away and when you’ll be back, especially when you work in different time zones.

Build belonging

Think about ways to keep relationships intact while working from home and practicing social distancing.
“Consider creating a group chat for social interactions – during stressful times, everybody loves a good meme. Schedule coffee with a colleague over video to catch up. Remote workers need more of these checkpoints than those who are in the office.”

Create consistent connections

It can be easy to slip into a siloed work experience when everyone is working on their own, especially during more socially isolating times. Institute a quick daily virtual team connect to keep work moving forward.

Provide a variety of tools

The tools available to distributed teams aren’t perfect. No one technology does it all. “Pick some consistent tools for instant messaging, video conferencing, sharing documents, file transfers, etc. to keep your team connected virtually while social distancing,” Galloway-Gaul noted.

Turn your camera on

Video should be the default setting for any remote collaboration. Seeing facial reactions and body language lets you “read the room,” plus people are less likely to interrupt or speak over one another. “To do it well, keep the computer at eye level — put it on a stand or further back so it isn’t looking up your nose. Look into the camera and use natural light, but avoid putting your back to a window or you’ll look like a silhouette.”

Hear and be heard

“Avoid rooms with lots of hard surfaces that echo – like a kitchen,” says Galloway-Gaul. “Choose rooms with rugs or other softer materials, like the living room.” Headphones provide a better experience than computer audio. Finally, if you’re late to an online meeting or not speaking, mute your audio to avoid disrupting the conversation.

Find focus

Not everyone has a home office, so think about establishing a territory that clearly signals “I’m at work.” Discuss protocol with other members of your household to signal when you’re “on at work,” even if you’re reading on the sofa. If you tend to be distracted by other household demands, find a way to create visual boundaries so you don’t see the dirty dishes. And, if acoustics are an issue and you can’t shut the door, headphones may be your new best friend.

Be aware of your posture

A risk of working from home is becoming more sedentary. Look for ways to vary your posture and the spots where you work throughout the day. “Sit, stand, perch, go for a walk — activating the body, activates the brain and can keep you from going stir crazy,” Galloway-Gaul add.

Particularly important: Most people slumped over their laptop and look down onto their screens when they have converted the dining room chair and table to an office. “We strongly suggest raising the laptop, even if on a couple of books, which allows the screen to be at the same level of your face. This is much better for your body, dramatically reducing strain on the back and neck.”

 

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