Business Maverick

WORK-LIFE BALANCE

A fifth of South African workers still operating on a hybrid work routine

A fifth of South African workers still operating on a hybrid work routine
Discovery Insure data shows hybrid work saves time and money, with most office workers commuting at least three days a week. (Photo: Misha Jordaan/Gallo Images)

Discovery Insure data shows that a significant 23% of work from home converts are still using hybrid work models, indicating that the future of work may be dictated by balance and avoiding peak traffic.

Hybrid work is here to stay. Discovery Insure data, analysing the driving trends of Vitality Drive programme members, reveals that 23% of clients who began working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic are still not back in office full time.

“Flexible working is still one of the top motivators for job seekers, as more people seek better work-life balance. This trend is reflected in Discovery’s own data, which corroborates several other studies (such as The perceived influence of remote working on specific human resource management outcomes during the Covid-19 pandemic),” says Robert Attwell, Discovery Insure CEO.

According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2022 report, only 24% of South African workers were engaged at work and only 29% were thriving in their overall well-being. Non-profit group, Four Day Week SA, believes there is potential for a four-day week in SA to help address unemployment and youth upliftment in the longer term. The group advocates the 100-80-100 model, where you get 100% of the pay, 80% of the time, but critically in exchange for 100% of the productivity. The hybrid model implies a high degree of trust between employers and employees based on the notion that the employee will manage their time appropriately to deliver on their work commitments.

Hybrid routine saves time and money

“Data tells us that many Discovery Insure drivers follow a hybrid work model, which helps them avoid traffic — and the time and fuel wastage that comes with it. So, if you’re hybrid working a few days a week, and if you can choose which days you go into the office, make one of those in-office days a Friday, and if it’s a Wednesday, leave the house earlier to avoid traffic and congestion,” says Attwell.

Interestingly, the data also shows that people who work from the office full-time generally drive the most on the weekends, too. This, says Attwell, could be because they don’t have as much time during the week to run errands, whereas people with hybrid work arrangements likely get time to do short grocery trips during their breaks or after work.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Remote Work Doesn’t Seem to Affect Productivity, Fed Study Finds

Attwell says although traffic volumes have increased during the work week on certain days, volumes are not where they were in 2019 or pre-Covid. Discovery Insure’s data suggests that we can still expect to see hybrid workplace models for some time if the current rate of change remains the same, he adds. “The data shows that while many South Africans are making their way back to the office, most aren’t working in the building for the traditional 9-to-5, five days a week. I believe this is because many companies — including Discovery — understand the benefits of hybrid work.”

75% of office workers commute three days a week minimum

Discovery Insure’s analysis of driving patterns from June to November 2023 reveals that, of those who drove to the office, 53% did so five days a week. Overall, 75% of clients who work from offices are now commuting at least three times a week.

When workers are at their offices, office hours seem to match those of the pre-pandemic years, but workers now tend to leave earlier on Fridays.  Atwell says Saffers spend about 20 minutes less in the office on Fridays, before they knock off for the weekend.

The data further revealed that offices are most likely to be full on Wednesdays, with nearly 80% of full-time and hybrid employees opting to be at the office on Wednesdays. Fridays, however, are the least popular day for working from the office.

However, the hybrid work arrangement is not a one-size-fits-all approach. David John-Wayne Bailey, a marketing manager at Big Beard Web Solutions points out that a four-day workweek won’t help your company grow if your employer or employees lack a sense of responsibility and honesty. “You could spend time and money on fancy programmes to foster (the four-day work week), but it may be better to take a hard look at your staff members first,” he says. DM

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  • James Smith says:

    Come now Daily Maverick, this headline is misleading at best.
    Of the broader population of working South Africans, this focuses in on those privileged enough (1) to have car insurance, and (2) to be with Discovery, and thus the sample is artificially limited to middle-class white-collar workers. We can in no way draw conclusions about the broader South African economy from Discovery’s very limited, very skewed data set.
    The hybrid work trend may be real among a very limited, privileged set of folks, but the majority of South African workers cannot work hybrid.

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