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The darker side for Capetonians working from home

31 August 2020 12:48 PM

Corporates are concerned with productivity and mentoring, and individuals have feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Rob Kane, chair of the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) and CEO of Boxwood Property Fund, talks to Refilwe Moloto about the rate at which we are returning to office spaces and the working environment, and how this could affect the face of the workplace in the future.

We've seen quite a transition and I think we are in the middle of that transition now.

Rob Kane, Chair - CCID

When lockdown began many people started working from home and have made it work, he says, but two trends are now being observed.

One is, corporates are realising they are not really getting that productivity out of the staff that they would like.

Rob Kane, Chair - CCID

The problem areas reported by corporates are in particular regarding training and mentorship.

If you have young people or new people in the office how do you work with them?

Rob Kane, Chair - CCID

He argues for older people working from home is not as challenging.

You could probably work from the far side of the moon and you would still be alright because you have a lot of experience and a lot of base knowledge.

Rob Kane, Chair - CCID

But further down the scale, it is not working as effectively, he notes.

People also need other people in the office to react off and to figure out what's going on.

Rob Kane, Chair - CCID

So many informal but useful conversations happen in the office around the water cooler he says.

Whereas if you are working from home you have to Zoom call. You have to tell your boss that you want to call at 10 'o clock to talk about this, and you have a formal meeting.

Rob Kane, Chair - CCID

There are differing statistics coming out with certain tech companies performing far better since taff began working from home, suggests Refilwe.

I agree with you that technology is a game-changer and that it will change the office for the better and will see a reduction in the amount of space people use.

Rob Kane, Chair - CCID

I think we have to be quite careful in thinking we can have all our staff working from home and it will be ok. I think there is going to be a decimation of quality and professionalism, and also team spirit.

Rob Kane, Chair - CCID

He says as a property developer, Boxwood Property Fund is involved in a number of buildings in the city and has done a fair share of phoning around corporates in Cape Town to gauge the temperature.

There are a lot of corporates that are now offering their staff counseling because of the social issues of staying at home and because of the loneliness. So how can that be healthy?

Rob Kane, Chair - CCID

More and more office workers are coming back into the city he says and believes this will increase further over the next few months.

He says while the corporates have concerns, there is another side as well and that is individuals.

The office workers are wanting to come back. They miss going for a coffee with their mates, first thing or at lunchtime.

Rob Kane, Chair - CCID

They miss the interaction with colleagues in the office, he adds.

Kane says CCID and the City of Cape Town and the province are working on numerous events such as First Thursdays to make it fun for office workers returning to the city.

Listen to the interview below:


31 August 2020 12:48 PM

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