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Tsebo Thought Leaders – Aubrey Mc Elnea

Covid-19 has given us a unique opportunity to reconsider how we create agile workspaces that function to keep employees physically safe while enhancing mental wellbeing, communication and culture. Aubrey Mc Elnea, CEO Tsebo Facilities Solutions, talks about how his team is working to create flexible solutions that lead to more productive work environments.

One of the most profound effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on business has been the rapid shift to remote work with businesses adopting digital technologies to work from home and hold virtual meetings.

While the successful implementation of remote working across a number of industries has proved popular on some levels, Aubrey Mc Elnea, CEO Tsebo Facilities Solutions, cautions against potential overreaction by disturbing operations to the level that they can’t turn back without incurring excessive additional cost.

Most businesses have developed procedures that may have been disrupted and which, together with additional structural disruption, may prove to be disenablers once business volumes start to recover. In a country like South Africa, where unemployment is a reality we need to consider employment-rich opportunities. Remote working tends to lead to discussions around the necessity of staff and associated costs in many industries. Technology works best when used to enhance our employees’ skills – freeing up their time to concentrate on human-centric tasks such as client engagement and communication – not as a tool to replace them.

“The more happily employed people we have in South Africa, the larger our consumer base and healthier our economy,” says Mc Elnea.

To this end, “Work from home is not a silver bullet, it can reduce productivity and erode a company’s culture. Executives are required to spend greater time communicating with their teams to enforce the culture and the ethos of the business.

‘It can also be a challenge in a developing country where employees struggle with unstable electricity and utility supply and a younger workforce, who reside in compact residential structures, are often unable to afford the infrastructure needed for a comfortable home office. Distractions are also a reality whether it’s young children, pets or home improvements, staff are human and the temptation to slip off the radar can be overwhelming for some individuals.

“That said, Covid-19 has forced us to consider the possibility that there will be other pandemics in the future and we need to take these left-field eventualities into consideration relooking at workplaces through strategic facilities management and workplace design.”

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