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Coronavirus in SA- how to implement a remote work policy that protects your staff and business

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Team Giraffe is effecting a work from home policy from today for at least the next two weeks. Since we already have a remote working process in place for some teams, and since we use outsourced staff for some functions, we’ve already developed tools and processes for effective remote work. In this article we share our remote work process. We note that this process might work well for knowledge-based businesses but less well for businesses dealing with physical products or that require physical contact with customers. However the general principles may still apply.

The key things to consider are staff safety, business productivity, business continuity and team morale.

1. Ensuring staff safety

The main objective of the remote working policy is to ensure staff safety whilst continuing to run the business effectively. Since Covid-19 is highly infectious, it is critical to self-isolate to decrease the chances of contracting the virus. The fewer people contract the virus, the more likely we are to contain the disease. Countries like Hong Kong and Singapore have already done this effectively by encouraging self-isolation and regular hygienic practice.

We have asked our staff to STAY AT HOME for the next two weeks and minimise going out as far as possible. In addition, EVERYONE in their household should also stay at home. There is little point in one household member staying at home if another is regularly going out, since the latter might get infected whilst out and then transfer the infection at home. If you have a domestic helper, ask them to stay at home for the next two weeks- and continue paying them as if they were working. This is for both their safety and yours.

Staff who have elderly parents or family members should ask them to STAY AT HOME as they are at higher risk. Deliver supplies to them instead.

In preparing to stay at home we’ve asked staff to adequately stock up for the next two weeks. This does not mean paranoid hoarding of toilet paper. Instead, purchase non perishable foods like tinned food, eggs, rice, pasta, grains, long life milk etc to last for two weeks. Supermarkets are likely to be inundated in the next few days but supplies will resume after the initial rush subsides.


2. Ensuring business productivity

The most important factor to maintain business productivity whilst remote working is alignment and communication- both within and across teams. This assumes staff have internet at home. For staff that didn’t already have internet at home, we purchased mobile broadband SIMs from Rain so that staff can tether off their phone. Mobile broadband prices change often so we suggest checking the latest prices online. Once everyone has internet at home, the tool we are using for communication is Slack, an online collaboration and communication tool that is effectively free.

Our daily schedule looks like this:

  • 8am- Team alignment session using a Slack videocall. At this session each team aligns on its objectives for the day. Any issues, risks or problems are flagged and addressed. By the end of this call, every team member knows what they need to do for that day.
  • 9am- Company-wide session also using Slack. This is a brief meeting where team leads share any key updates with each other and the CEO. CEO also provides any material updates with the team.
  • During the day- everyone is online on Slack and team members are encouraged to communicate often
  • 430pm- Team debrief. At this session team members report on progress and whether the daily objectives have been completed. There should be no surprises as teams should have been communicating during the day.


3. Ensuring business continuity

We at Giraffe meet customers on a regular basis. We are now moving to virtual meetings using Zoom video, which is an excellent online videoconferencing tool which is also effectively free. Customer meetings will continue as normal but just over Zoom.

In addition, we are listening to customers’ changing needs and trying to adapt accordingly. For example, we expect demand for delivery drivers to increase over the next couple of months and are already priming our candidate database accordingly. All businesses will have to adapt to changes in society and the economy in general and should think about how customer behaviour and needs will change in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.


4. Ensuring team morale

Social isolation for a prolonged period will likely cause loneliness and a potential drop in motivation. To mitigate this we are adopting the following:

  • Staff are encouraged to continue joking and bantering on Slack. Humour and fun are important for us to get through this together!
  • We encourage staff to take a few breaks each day and go for a walk outside (avoiding other people). Get some fresh air, take your eyes off the monitor and stretch your legs.
  • After work, keep in touch with friends and loved ones. Stay positive and think good thoughts


The Covid-19 pandemic is a once-in-a- generation event that will likely change the world in fundamental ways. However, we will all get through this in the next few months. The most important thing for South African businesses is to prioritise health over profits and do as much as possible to help contain the virus NOW and prevent the exponential growth we have seen in Europe and the USA.

Many companies might be concerned that working from home may result in reduced productivity and hence might be wary of doing it. However, by ensuring proper alignment and communication between teams, virtual ways of dealing with customers and adaptation to changing customer needs, it is possible to get through the next couple of months with minimal disruption to the business.


About Giraffe

Giraffe is a job platform that automatically screens candidates so you don’t have to. Giraffe enables South African businesses to recruit medium-skilled staff faster and more affordably than any other recruitment method. Because Giraffe has automated the boring parts of the recruitment process– candidate sourcing and screening– business owners and recruiters can focus on more important tasks like interviewing the best candidates and managing retention. Simply post a job on Giraffe. Let Giraffe automatically screen candidates as they apply. Log in, see which candidates have passed your screening, listen to their voice notes and hire the best ones! 

To post a job on Giraffe click here

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