By: Tanya van Aswegen, General Manager, Compli-Serve SA
The severe loss of life, widespread sickness, and economic turmoil so many of us are going through as a result of Covid-19 and the lockdown, are heavy burdens as we try to move forward as best, we can. We are each impacted in some way or another, and although it’s difficult to look for the good out of a terrible situation, the new working world that has emerged through required social distancing has brought with it, a breath of fresh air.
We didn’t know that travelling for meetings could so easily be parked in favour of online meetings. What we have been able to do from home is quite inspiring. In honour of Women’s Month we got some insight from our female compliance officers on the challenges, and successes of working at home under lockdown. Here are five ways lockdown has improved the way we work.
Times have changed, literally
Elzabe Botha has found that people are more conscious and respectful of working hours than before, even though it can be a challenge to put work aside when at home. She finds that starting earlier enables her to finish earlier, freeing up the late afternoons and evenings to spend with her family.
The new way of Teams meetings and avoiding traffic to be on time have not only changed how we work and meet but have also pushed us closer to adopting technology. While some sectors (such as financial services) were already geared towards this than others in many ways, the 4IR has firmly taken hold as digital communication capacity has changed how we manage working time.
“We have to make use of technology in ways that we maybe haven’t in the past,” says Theresa van Diggelen. “Virtual meetings are becoming the norm, and people are embracing what is being made available to them.”
Data security gets its day
Lockdown has been a good way to test whether companies have sufficient electronic storage and data recovery mechanisms in place. Data security has never been more important, and the new working world has seen the urgency in cyber-safety (although it has always been a risk to protect against), and this extends to the home office.
“A virtual workspace means IT becomes that much more vital to a company’s success and thus poses an even greater risk,” says Nadia Verappen. “Working from home can create additional security vulnerabilities and requires enhanced compliance monitoring.”
We’re all in this together
Most of the world has been in some form of lockdown, so there is a sense of being in the same boat. “The tolerance I have experienced, even with international clients, for people with animals and kids in the background has been extraordinary,” adds Elzabe Botha, a mom who also owns budgies and dogs. “You get an idea of what people are having to work with at home and appreciate your own circumstances even more.” She feels about 90% of clients have been able to continue working as per normal, perhaps even being more productive.
Productivity is thy name
Riana Grobler says most clients were surprised how effectively they could have compliance meetings from home. “It’s also easier and quicker to set up meetings online, and you don’t have to plan weeks in advance.”
Elzabe agrees. “I find that I can go into a lot more detail while working remotely as there is less chit-chat as meetings are to the point and don’t go over time. The perception that you have to sit in front of a person to be able to have a productive meeting has shifted.”
Nadia says the workflow is faster too. “Client interactions have been very productive and reducing travel time means I can focus on client work.”
Work/life balance in check
While it can be difficult to get the work/life balance right when you are based at home, it does allow the opportunity to tune in to listen to your needs.
Catherine Cooper, CO and Director of Compli-Serve KZN focused on being more balanced, including walks with friends and meditation into her daily schedule. While work still piles on, she realises the importance of making time for the things she enjoys. “I chose to implement healthy new routines.”
It’s important to find methods that work. Having my entire family at home during lockdown has meant needing a strict schedule to help balance my various tasks with necessary family quality time. Organisational and time management skills are vital in this juggling process. I create a schedule of tasks for myself for the week ahead, to focus on and conclude. We may have to take things one day – or week – at a time, but keeping it manageable keeps the balance.