Tales from Around the World: South Africa
Updated: Jun 11
Listen: Humanize IT Podcast Blog Ep 107
Disclaimer: This podcast focuses on giving a general idea of how South Africa has adapted to Covid-19 from the perspective of a technology professional. We acknowledge there are more complex perspectives, aspects, and issues which aren't addressed within this short podcast and blog. For more about how you can make a positive impact in the lives of South Africans go here: COVID-19 Corona Virus
Greetings from South Africa! In the premiere episode of our “Tales from Around the World” series, we’re talking to Cape Town engineer Richard Bauer to find out more about his lockdown experience from across the globe.
Socially speaking, South Africa’s laws are much stricter than they are in the U.S. Many restaurants, salons and other local businesses aren’t set to open until September. International shipping was cut off, which meant people couldn’t get supplies and the country was running out of fuel. Alcohol sales just recently resumed and tobacco is still banned, for fear that people will pass those “cigarettes” around in a circle.
While lockdown life has been difficult for South Africans, the tech industry, specifically, has thrived under these measures for a variety of reasons. When the president gave non-essential workers four days to prepare to work from home, Richard and his team expected a drop in business. The opposite happened, however, as dozens of companies needed help converting to the cloud and otherwise preparing for this dispersed work environment. Business was booming and the team was working overtime. Plus, they could now put the countless hours used to travel and fix problems on-site toward prepaid, project-type work.
Additionally, it gives many the opportunity to work from home permanently. To do this, workers must rely on the IT industry for constant, long-term support. For Richard, every workday meant 3.5 hours spent in a car — 2 hours there, 1.5 on the way back. Now that he and his staff can work remotely, they’ve rented out their space to another company who needs it more and Richard gets to spend less time in the car.
After this is over, he said the workers who go back to the traditional office setting will be those who want to, not those who have to. He believes many companies will be progressive and embrace this change because it saves them money, expands their hiring pool and serves as a selling point for employees.
A Renewed Entrepreneurial Spirit
Although technology is incredibly valuable during this time, the lockdown also helps businesses run more genuinely — the way they did before the digital age. It’s a great time to push the boundaries of usual business relationships and form real conversations with clients, because for now, normal, hour-long meetings aren’t possible. So, pick up the phone and start calling. Check in and say hello, even if there’s no real purpose for the call. Talk to your clients like a trusted business partner. Show these people that you aren’t robots — you’re more than flipping switches and connecting wires. Show them you care! This pandemic has unleashed an entrepreneurial spirit we haven’t seen before the days of the internet, which is the best result of this entire, strange situation, Richard said.
Reset and Reevaluate
Another good outcome of the lockdown is quality time at home. Adam, Skip and Richard all agreed that it was wonderful to see kids playing outside, riding bikes and running around rather than sitting inside on their tablets and phones. For Richard, this lockdown has meant no more commuting, saving him hours of his day that can now be put toward family time. He even saw a squirrel — a new animal that’s never made an appearance in his neighborhood before.
People are appreciating nature, family, time at home and the technology bringing everything together now more than ever. Although the circumstances aren’t ideal, it’s still great to see.
Stay tuned for next week’s episode, where we head even further east to… AUSTRALIA!