Salary cuts, short time, and work-from-home during lockdown level 1

On 16 September 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa will move to lockdown alert level 1 from midnight on Sunday 20 September 2020.

He said South Africa’s economy and our society have suffered great devastation, and that the move to level 1 will return the economy to a situation that is more normal.

In his previous speeches, Ramaphosa encouraged people to stay at home if they can and, if possible, to work from home.

This time around the President did not mention working from home, which gives an indication that it is not a top priority any longer.

Most large technology and telecommunications companies have previously asked their employees to work from home.

In many cases, the lockdown and economic slowdown also forced companies to cut salaries and put staff on short time.

To find out whether the move to lockdown level 1 changed the way companies operate, MyBroadband asked the country’s top ICT players for feedback.

It emerged that most employees continue to work from home and that salary cuts and short time are not commonplace.

There are, however, a few companies which are now giving their staff the option to come into the office should they prefer.

There are also some companies which are preparing for rotational office work to start the process to return.

Working from home

Here is a summary of the feedback from South Africa’s top IT and telecoms companies regarding working from home and moving to lockdown level 1.

  • Adapt IT – The company envisages that most employees will continue to work virtually from home until the end of the year. They have experienced a great level of productivity and increased levels of staff engagement during lockdown, and they have decided to formalise virtual work by implementing a work-from-home policy.
  • Altron – The company is developing a remote working policy which will be a hybrid model that accounts for those working from home permanently and those working from the office. The policy will provide flexibility and agility with hot-desking allowed for those who wish to come to the office on specific set times only.
  • Alviva – They encourage staff to work from home where possible and employees will continue to work from home for the time being.
  • Catalytic (Telemasters) – They are back at the office as they believe being in the office creates a different vibe and energy that remote work cannot compete with.
  • Cell C – Cell C employees who have been working effectively remotely will continue to do so whilst the company finalises its remote working model.
  • Dimension Data – Employees are working either on an occasional or rotational basis where they spend some time at home and at the office. They will continue to manage occupancy levels in terms of the current regulations for as long as this is necessary. For the new normal ‘future of work’, they believe that a hybrid model is possibly the most viable option for the long-term. However, not all employees would be able to fit into this. There are possibly two categories of workers: distributed and designated.
  • EOH – The company is evaluating the impact of lockdown level 1 on its business. Working from home remains the preferred choice for its employees as far as possible.
  • Liquid Telecom – They have allowed their employees to continue working from home. However, provisions have been made to accommodate 50% of the essential staff to return to office should they wish to.
  • MTN – The mobile operator encourages its staff to keep working from home. The MTN philosophy is that post-COVID-19, those who can work from home and are happy to work from home will be encouraged to work remotely.
  • Rain – People work from home, but the company’s office buildings are open for ad hoc team meetings, some critical services and to accommodate staff struggling with connectivity at their homes. They plan to continue for the rest of the year in this fashion. They believe that in future people will no longer have every staff member coming into the office every day.
  • Vodacom – Under level 1, Vodacom has given staff the option to return to work effectively from 1 October. However, only 25% occupancy will be accommodated per building across all its offices. It will continue to build on the success of its work-from-home programme, which means for many employees working from home has become the “new normal”.
  • Vox – The company encourages as many staff members as possible to work remotely if they are able to do so. Vox said the majority of staff prefer to work from home and they feel more productive given they do not need to sit in traffic. On the flip side, this has also highlighted the “deadwood” or non-performers.
  • Vumatel – The company’s staff is still working from home and they believe it’s the best way forward for the company and its teams to continue this way for the foreseeable future. Vumatel has decided to make remote working part of their way of work, and this is how they will operate going forward.

Work from home, salary cuts, and short time

The table below provides an overview of working from home, salary cuts, and short time at South Africa’s biggest tech companies.

Impact of COVID-19 on ICT Companies
Adapt IT
Staff working from home Yes.
Future work-from-home plan They envisage that most employees will continue to work virtually from home until the end of the year.
Current salary cuts No.
Current short time Yes.
Altron
Staff working from home Yes.
Future work-from-home plan Altron is working on a remote working policy which will have a hybrid model of those working from home permanently and those working from the office.
Current salary cuts No.
Current short time No.
Alviva
Staff working from home Yes.
Future work-from-home plan Alviva staff will continue to work from home for the time being.
Current salary cuts No.
Current short time No.
Blue Label
Staff working from home Yes.
Future work-from-home plan Blue Label’s journey of organisational transformation will continue into next year.
Current salary cuts No.
Current short time No.
Catalytic (Telemasters)
Staff working from home No.
Future work-from-home plan As a business Catalytic connects better being in the same space.
Current salary cuts No.
Current short time No.
Cell C
Staff working from home Yes.
Future work-from-home plan Cell C employees who have been working effectively remotely will continue to do so whilst the company finalises its remote working model.
Current salary cuts No.
Current short time Yes.
Datatec
Staff working from home No comment.
Future work-from-home plan No comment.
Current salary cuts No comment.
Current short time No comment.
Dimension Data
Staff working from home Yes, with occasional and rotational office work.
Future work-from-home plan Continue to manage occupancy levels in terms of the current regulations for as long as this is necessary.
Current salary cuts No.
Current short time No.
EOH
Staff working from home Yes.
Future work-from-home plan Work from home remains the preferred choice for our employees as far as possible.
Current salary cuts No comment.
Current short time No comment.
Liquid Telecom
Staff working from home Yes.
Future work-from-home plan Provisions have been made to accommodate 50% of the essential staff to return to office should they wish to.
Current salary cuts No.
Current short time No.
MTN
Staff working from home Yes.
Future work-from-home plan It is unlikely that MTN’s staff will return to the office this year as safety remains our top priority.
Current salary cuts No.
Current short time No.
MultiChoice
Staff working from home No comment.
Future work-from-home plan No comment.
Current salary cuts No comment.
Current short time No comment.
Rain
Staff working from home Yes, but its office buildings are open for ad hoc team meetings, some critical services and to accommodate staff struggling with connectivity at their homes.
Future work-from-home plan Rain plans to continue for the rest of the year in this fashion.
Current salary cuts No.
Current short time No.
Telkom
Staff working from home No comment.
Future work-from-home plan No comment.
Current salary cuts No comment.
Current short time No comment.
Vodacom
Staff working from home Yes.
Future work-from-home plan Vodacom has given staff the option to return to work on 1 October. However, only 25% occupancy will be accommodated per building.
Current salary cuts No.
Current short time No.
Vox
Staff working from home Yes.
Future work-from-home plan The company encourages as many staff members as possible to work remotely if they are able to do so.
Current salary cuts No.
Current short time No.
Vumatel
Staff working from home Yes.
Future work-from-home plan Vumatel has decided to make remote working part of its way of work, and this is how it will operate going forward.
Current salary cuts No.
Current short time No.

Now read: Top South African tech companies – Salary cuts, retrenchments, and work-from-home policies

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Salary cuts, short time, and work-from-home during lockdown level 1