More productive at home
Lessons from the pandemic
11 November 2021 | Business
Working from home improves employee productivity - something employers should take advantage of in the post-pandemic era.
This is the finding of a study that Prof Sulaiman Atiku and his fellow researchers undertook in Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana, but also as far as Ghana, Burkina Faso and Nigeria.
“Adaptable work arrangements have had a huge positive impact on workers’ productivity during Covid-19 restrictions. Most employees who had to work elsewhere than from the office were more productive than usual during the lockdown,” Atiku said at a virtual event during the University of Science and Technology's (Nust) institutional research week on Tuesday.
The event ended yesterday.
Atiku said before the pandemic, many employers in Africa were sceptical about letting employees work from home, however the pandemic forced them to do so.
“If there is one lesson learned during the pandemic, it is that employers should consider having their employees work from home. Consider and utilise adaptable work arrangements and options,” he recommends.
“However, there is a great need for basic but essential information technology (IT) equipment so that they can work efficiently from home,” he added.
“IT support during the lockdown was still an issue,” Atiku said. “Most employers did not provide adequate IT support to their employees.”
The study by Atiku, his NUST colleague Dr Andrew Jeremiah, and Dr Frank Boateng of the University of Mines and Technology in Ghana, was published in the South African Journal of Business Management.
During the research, it was determined how factors such as adaptable work arrangements, employer support, IT support as well as productivity influenced each other.
Atiku said they focused on the service sector in particular, which could work from home more easily than elsewhere. They reached 473 people.
He said the pandemic caught both employers and governments in Africa off guard and they suddenly had to apply alternative work arrangements without any warning.
“The study found that employers’ support as well as the necessary IT support is essential for employees to be able to work from home, and it also improves their productivity,” Atiku said.
He added that the study is particularly valuable because there is a serious shortage of data on how adaptive work arrangements were adopted and implemented during a pandemic in Africa.
The study is also available online.