Work-from-home policies of two major South African Internet service providers

Afrihost’s and Vox Telecoms’ employees may still work from home if they prefer, even after South Africa’s Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.

The Internet service providers (ISPs) said they had noticed improved productivity and staff morale since implementing hybrid working policies.

Afrihost told MyBroadband that its work-from-home policy is team dependent.

“Most teams are hybrid at the moment with a few fully remote and a few at the office full time,” it said.

“We have seen that a hybrid model (office days on a regular schedule) is working well for team morale/general mental health around work.”

Vox Telecoms CEO Jacques du Toit said the company’s employees responded favourably to remote working after implementing a work-from-home policy during level 5 lockdown in 2020.

It has now adopted a permanent hybrid work policy.

“They are generally more productive and appreciate the flexibility that working from home affords them,” Du Toit said.

“We have therefore implemented a permanent work-from-home policy but do allow staff to come into the office when required.”

However, Du Toit specified that some aspects of Vox’s business, particularly its salesforce, may require more in-person engagement. These staff members can work from the office if they wish.

“Our staff has the flexibility to choose where they want to work from,” he said.

“There are instances whereby there is a need for one-on-one sessions or team meetings, and sometimes it’s a case of working from home not being conducive because of disruptions, etc. and as such, the option to work from the office is available to staff.”

“This is especially pertinent to the sales force who have a greater need for engagement,” Du Toit added.

Du Toit also provided some insights into the factors contributing to a successful work-from-home policy.

“What we have learnt is that this new culture of remote working needs to be embraced from the top down, and management needs to be sensitive to staff and their needs and try to find a healthy balance that will work for all parties,” he said.

“We have been very fortunate to successfully have maintained the Vox culture of ownership, responsibility and accountability throughout ongoing communication and engagement with our staff.”

Webafrica closing its offices

Webafrica has also adopted a permanent hybrid work policy and closed its Cape Town office in April 2022. The company said its Johannesburg office would remain open until February 2023.

“The main concern in the decision is how it would affect the staff’s wellbeing and productivity, as well as how it will affect their customer experience,” Webafrica CEO Sean Nourse said.

The ISP allowed its staff to work from the office during lockdown, but noticed that very few members chose the option.

Nourse explained that Webafrica didn’t force its staff to return to the office after lockdown but instead evaluated the situation and surveyed its staff to find out what they preferred.

The consensus was that Webafrica’s staff believed working from home offered far more benefits than returning to the office.

“Remote working has exceeded our expectations in terms of employee productivity and the savings our staff gain by not travelling to work,” Nourse said.

“On average, by working from home, we save our employees approximately 2.5 hours a day in traffic and with rising petrol costs, remote working drastically reduces the burden of these increases on our staff’s pockets.”

It also made it easier for staff to tend to family matters.

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Work-from-home policies of two major South African Internet service providers