MTN said its work-from-home arrangements have gone extremely well and that its post-Covid way of work will be a combination of in-office and remote working.
MTN was one of South Africa’s leaders in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic and preparing employees to work from home.
Even before the pandemic hit local shores, the company introduced measures to ensure smooth operations when employees could no longer come to the office.
The company gave MTN staff the required tools to perform their duties, including smartphones, laptops, secure communication applications, good connectivity, and ergonomically friendly chairs and desks.
This preparation served the operator well. Its transition to a remote work environment had little to no impact on MTN.
MTN SA’s executive for corporate affairs, Jacqui O’Sullivan, said that they only had core employees at the office throughout national level four lockdown.
These employees included technicians, engineers, store sales support, and operators in their national operations centre.
“Our position remains that if MTN employees can work from home, they should do so, as we see no need to place people at risk,” she said.
Although their remote working arrangements worked well, MTN will not become a complete work-from-home company.
MTN is currently investigating options that would appeal to its employees. “We will do this through a consultative approach with our employees,” said O’Sullivan.
“As a technology company, we have seen that our people have easily adapted to combining technology and on-site discussions, and we have not seen any significant dips in productivity.”
“We have actually had to issue guidelines to our employees, as we found that employees were consistently working considerably longer days than deemed healthy.”
The lack of a commute has seen MTN employees starting work at 07:00 and leaving at 19:00. “We have had to push back against this behaviour as people are exhausted,” she said.
As a result, MTN implemented measures like a “no meeting day” to encourage employees not to hold any internal meetings for the day. This happens once a month.
O’Sullivan said their post-pandemic way of work would be a combination of in-office and remote working.
“It is unlikely that we will encourage any employees to be 100% remote. The idea is that we need some element of face-to-face interaction to foster team collaboration, which is key to our culture,” she said.
Commenting on whether employees will be required to be vaccinated to return to the office, O’Sullivan said the applicable law would guide them concerning return-to-work and vaccination policy.
The remote working transition has also solved a big problem for MTN — limited space at its 14th avenue campus in Johannesburg.
MTN’s campus has been the subject of much discussion in recent months due to space being at a premium.
“While we had been looking at ‘overflow’ buildings for possible occupation, this recent experience has seen us put that process entirely on hold,” said O’Sullivan.
“It is abundantly clear to us that our people are more than ready to adapt to a hybrid model of home and office work.”