Living and working within the Covid-19 constraints has unfortunately become our new norm and there is no doubt that each and every one of us has been affected as a result. The extent of this, though, may from one person to another.

Helene Vermaak, business director at corporate cultural experts The Human Edge cites a popular quote: “We may all be in the same boat, but we are all weathering a different storm.”

The company’s local survey conducted during the lockdown revealed that 64% of participants believe the pandemic is causing financial struggles for their households. “As the lockdown continues, there is no doubt that this number will see a steep increase,” says Vermaak.

She says that the fact that 45% of respondents are greatly concerned about their organisations being equipped to face Covid-19 threats, especially from a financial perspective, is no doubt adding to the concern and anxiety South Africans are feeling about the future.

South African businesses responded quickly to employees having to work from home with 79% of the respondents saying their organisations supported and enabled the process. However, Vermaak says that what is concerning is that only 51% of respondents feel that their colleagues are able to raise issues of a sensitive nature relating to lockdown challenges. “Managers need to have the skills to manage remote teams and to encourage communication and collaboration habits otherwise this virus will impact team connectivity, morale, accountability and results.”

We know that leaders play an extremely important role during times of uncertainty and it is imperative that during this time employees are made to feel comfortable to hold candid and effective conversations, as they face new rules, spaces and heightened emotions.

83% of the respondents reported they were required to work remotely, so it is no surprise that 72% also reported increase of hours having to work alone. Some other insights gained were:
• 52% reported an increase in working hours
• 31% an increase in quality of their work as a consequence of working from home
• 33% an increase in frequency of manager feedback
• 29% an increase in coworker engagement
• 24% an increase in hours spent engaging with clients

Vermaak says that despite the above results being positive for organisations, she is concerned that leaders and individuals are not taking into account the additional pressure and anxiety that this virus has brought into our lives. “It is now more than ever of utmost importance to find and maintain a balance.”