It’s an irony that the two of the “poster-children” for innovation, Apple and Google, are pushing to get employees back to the 9-5 routine. Employees are super-reluctant – nearly 90% of respondents in an internal Apple survey said location-flexible working options were “very important”. Only 20% of Google’s workforce will be allowed to continue working remotely – but they have to apply for the privilege, and that application may well not be successful.
South African companies are also struggling to find a way forward, with many opting for hybrid models – and again, the corporate bosses are much more keen on regularising workspaces than employees are.
The winners are companies with flexible working conditions, especially when it comes to millennial and Gen Z workers. In April 2021, US organisations saw a record-high number of resignations coinciding with the demand by many employers that their workforce return to the office. Many have followed since as corporate attitudes harden. They’re the losers.
Other winners are cities which make remote working easy. South Africa, for instance, has high time-zone overlap with much of Europe – Cape Town was recently ranked 16th-best remote working city, ahead of cities like New York and Edinburgh. As such, the city has been lobbying national government to introduce a Remote Working eVisa for digital nomads allowing for stays ranging from three months to a year if applicants can prove a foreign income.
Also #winning are co-working spaces. Independents have always used them and there are now more independents. Also the “hub and spoke” model – a centralised main office and a series of smaller, flexible satellite offices – is gaining traction as a corporate solution. Developers are taking note, and new co-working spaces may now include cafes, showers, or other amenities.
Entrepreneurs would do well to take note. The best people can choose how and where they believe they work best. The old 9-5 has had its day.