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Why employees no longer believe in ‘your desk’

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Today’s employees believe that the traditional “working behind a desk” concept is outdated and that technology enables them to strike a balance between work and their personal life, writes ANJA VAN BEEK.

Today’s employees – especially younger people – expect to be able to strike a reasonable balance between the needs of their personal lives and their professional obligations. They believe in working hard, but they also understand that investing time in their health, hobbies, friends and family is important to leading a fulfilled and productive life.

According to the Sage Walk with Me Report, 41% of the young workforce believes that technology will make the concept of “your desk” outdated, that the workplace will have more virtual staff in the next 10 years.

Progressive HR departments are embracing this shift in the workplace as a positive trend – and are looking at ways that they can use work-life balance as a means to attract and retain the best talent. They understand that work-life balance isn’t just good for the employee – it is also good for business because it can lead to lower costs and enhanced productivity.

The indirect costs of an exhausted workforce include absenteeism, health costs, reduced company morale, poor employee retention, lower productivity and lapses in quality of employees’ work. The costs of constantly recruiting and training new employees to replace those who burn out or leave can be substantial. By contrast, where the workforce works sensible hours, the people are often more creative, motivated, productive and engaged.

HR has an important role to play here – by means of helping to facilitate a culture that focuses in performance and quality of output rather than on the number of hours that people spend at their desks.

Here are some ways HR can support these changes in work culture:

1.     Be there for employees

With mobile devices in every employee’s hands, many people fail to unplug from work, even over the weekends or when they are on leave. Be aware of employees who never log off and who don’t draw a clear line between home and work.

Watch for warning signs like frequent absenteeism or slipping productivity and work quality – these might indicate that an employee is working too hard rather than slacking off. Also ask managers to watch out for signs of burn-out among the members of their teams.

If necessary, make it a policy that employees don’t need to answer emails or their mobile phones outside work hours, unless it’s an emergency. Employee-assistance programmes or external resources can be considered to help employees who struggle to say no to pushy co-workers or who battle to manage their time.

2.     Introduce workplace flexibility

Flexible hours don’t suit every job or every organisation, but knowledge workers increasingly expect some leeway around where and when they work. Though traditional managers fear that people will be unproductive when they work from home some of the time, or have some freedom in choosing their hours, this needn’t be the case.

Getting it right is about putting the right policies, technology, processes and performance management structures in place. There are affordable cloud-based technology solutions that can assist. Collaboration software (that can track task progress), videoconferencing, and human resources apps can empower employees and give business peace of mind in terms of output. HR and managers will need to make an effort to measure output regularly to ensure no one is falling behind.

Where it isn’t possible for people to work flexible hours, companies can support employees in other ways. For example, many larger companies offer employees onsite gyms or childcare facilities, or arrange laundry collection for people who cannot get away from the office.

3.     Set the example

Leading by example is one of the best successful ways for HR to create a company culture that promotes an output-oriented culture and supports the principles of a healthy work-life balance. HR can encourage managers and business owners to set an example, by taking frequent breaks, by completing their tasks and by taking their allocated holiday breaks. HR can also offer work-life balance workshops and encourage community upliftment or philanthropic activities to encourage a sense of accomplishment that is not work related.

Closing words

Whether you’re a small business owner or an HR professional at a large organisation, you’ll understand that it takes hard work and sacrifice to turn a dream business idea into a way of life. It’s important to support the employees who are joining your enterprise on this journey and to help them lead balanced and healthy lives.

* Anja van Beek, Vice President for People (HR) at Sage International (Africa Australia, Middle East and Asia)

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Welcome to world of 2099

The world of 2099 will be unrecognisable from the world of today, but it can be predicted, says one visionary. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK met him in Singapore.

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Futuristic structures tower over the landscape. Giant, alien-looking trees light up with dazzling colours amid the hundreds of plant species that grow up their trunks. Cosmetic stores sell their wares via public touch-screens, with products delivered instantly in drawers below the screens.

This is not a vision of the future. It is a sample of Singapore today. But it is also an inkling of the world we may all experience in the future.

Singapore was the venue, last week, of the World Cities Summit, where engineers, politicians, investors and visionaries rubbed shoulders as they talked about the strategies and policies that would enhance urban living in the future.

As part of the Summit, global payment technologies leader Mastercard hosted a small media briefing by one of Singapore’s leading thinkers about the future, Dr Damian Tan, managing director of Vickers Venture Partners. The company’s slogan “We invest in the extraordinary,” offers a small clue to Tan’s perspective.

“We look as far forward as 2099 because, as a venture capital firm, we invest in the long term,” he tells a group of journalists from Africa and the Middle East. “Companies explode in growth because there is value in the future. If there is no growth, they won’t explode.”

The big question that the Smart Cities Summit and Mastercard are trying to help answer is, what will cities look like in the year 2099? Tan can’t give an exact answer, but he offers a framework that helps one approach the question.

“If you want to look at 81 years into the future, and understand the change that will come, you need to double that amount and look into the past. That takes us to 1856. The difference between then and now is the difference you can expect between now and 2099.”

  •    Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

Use the page links below to continue reading about Tan’s visions.

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entries via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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