Shoprite employees have held hundreds of thousands of virtual meetings since the start of the lockdown period.
“COVID-19 and the pandemic’s subsequent lockdowns forced the Shoprite Group, with more than 147,000 employees, to implement a work from home environment almost overnight, rapidly facilitating thousands of virtual meetings per day in order to keep operations running smoothly,” said the retailer.
While many employees needed to report to physical stores, its distribution centre, and its offices, those who did not began working from home.
“Shoprite immediately made the move towards a comprehensive work-from-home policy as soon as government mandated it,” said general manager of IT David Cohn.
“It’s been remarkably successful – within 3 days we enabled over 2,000 people to work from home; making new tools and resources available and increasing cybersecurity quite significantly.”
Shoprite said that at its last count, it was holding 2,384 scheduled virtual meetings per day.
“At present, over 3,700 Shoprite employees actively participate in online meetings – and the total number of virtual meetings sits at more than 124,000 for the lockdown period,” said Cohn.
It said that informal online meetings are even more popular, as over 135,874 have been held since the lockdown began.
Implementing a work-from-home model
Cohn said that switching to a work-from-home model required the retailer to implement a comprehensive IT policy.
“As most South African businesses, we’d never considered having such a rapid and complete shift to a virtual working environment, and doing so came as a shock to the system,” said Cohn.
“But, as an organisation with such an agile and resilient IT department we were more than up for the challenge.”
He noted that the transition had not been without its challenges, but staff have taken to the new system well.
“By so quickly and painlessly enabling our staff to work remotely, they’ve been able to carry on seamlessly,” said Cohn.