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Multi-Faceted Business Continuity Challenges Mean Flexible Work Is Here To Stay

Flexible work is likely to remain the standard for South African organisations beyond the pandemic as they seek to remain agile in the face of a range of business continuity challenges in the years to come. Getting the right workplace solutions in place will be essential for businesses of all sizes as they continue to navigate the complexities of a hybrid work world.

That’s according to Barry Venter, CEO of Nashua. He says that even before the pandemic, Nashua repositioned itself from an office automation company with a 50-year heritage to a total workplace solutions provider, recognising that the world of work was changing fast. “As mobile connectivity grew faster and more pervasive, ways of working started to evolve,” he says.

“A workspace is no longer an office, but any place a worker can access an Internet connection. That isn’t just about working from home, but also bringing digital technology to the mine shaft, the factory floor, the school room, or the farm. We can capture data and transact at any point where a business carries out a process.”

It was in response to this trend that Nashua evolved into an integrated ICT solutions provider with voice, energy, connectivity, cloud, document management solutions, access control, surveillance, currency management, financing, and more in its portfolio. “Five or six years ago, we were already registering demand for solutions that enable organisations to be flexible and resilient,” says Venter.

When the pandemic struck, it helped to accelerate the shift to flexible work, adds Venter. Since then, working patterns have evolved from work-from-home under lockdown to flexible and hybrid working models. Discovery’s Work From Home Index indicates that South Africa’s workforce seems to have adopted a two days a week work-from-home pattern.

The pandemic’s lessons about the importance of agility

Venter says that even with most pandemic restrictions having come to an end and many companies welcoming people back into the office, flexible and hybrid work are here to stay. Organisations have learnt from the pandemic that they need to be agile to ensure business continuity during times of crisis—and equipping people to work from anywhere helps them to achieve this end.

“With the recent Level 6 load shedding fresh in our minds, the power crisis is one of the reasons that companies are pursuing a hybrid or flexible working model. We have seen triple digit growth in our energy solutions business,” says Venter. “As we can see from the floods in Kwa-Zulu Natal and the water shortages in the Eastern Cape, business interruptions can strike at any time.”

Venter says that two issues that are keeping many business leaders awake at night are the likelihood of future water crises similar to those seen in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape, as well as physical and cyber-crime. “Businesses want to work with a single partner that can help them prepare for and navigate these challenges,” he adds.

Looking ahead, Venter says that Nashua plans to continue working closely with its franchisees to create smart ecosystems that enable businesses and communities to thrive. “Most of our customers use two or more of our services, indicating their preference for integrated solutions,” he says. “The challenge we all face is futureproofing business and mitigating risk, in turn protecting revenues and enabling growth.”

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