Refining remote work and retaining vital skills, expertise and organisational memory

Covid-19 taught the entire world so much: how to make the necessary adjustments, how to keep healthy and busy at home, how to home school children, and of course how to use media like Zoom, Teams, and Skype to ensure that business is able to continue. It taught us all a great deal about how we can use Google applications as well as WhatsApp and Microsoft To Do etc. in our work lives, and how to continue to work from home for prolonged periods of time. During the process it further tested the College’s working from home, remote work and remote offices policies in way the College never dreamt of.

It transformed an international workforce in ways that it will find hard to reverse, and it would seem that when the spectre of Covid-19 is finally laid to rest, offices, organizations, and job will have changed forever, as employees and employers have learnt how effective people can be working from home or working remotely. Most employers are well aware things will never return to normal, and even prior to Covid-19, many companies realized that to attract the most skilled people they needed to offer some flexibility.

Always keen to pioneer in any way, the college is embarking on using remote work policies to retain the skills, expertise, organizational knowledge and memory, and contacts of keys staff members who are relocating for personal reasons.  Both staff members have jobs that can easily adapt to remote work, and by now, thanks to Covid-19, everyone in any kind of office job has learned to be available at the flick of a switch or press of a button, no matter where they are.

Marilize van der Walt, current Head: Natural Resource Management is relocating to the Western Cape, but will remain involved with the College, on a remote work retainer basis, which will be continually reviewed by both parties. Marilize has been a key figure in many projects – including one relating to the development of on-line curricula in a project management role, as well as in managing short courses and university programmes. She will continue to be involved in managing short courses and university programmes, being on campus when needed, and will also be continuing in building the college’s webinar platform online. In addition, she will be the liaison person between the College and stakeholders and conservation organisations in the Cape, as she will be ideally located between the Eastern and Western Cape.

Lesley Greyling, Head: HR has been involved with the College since 2000, remaining part of the college ‘family’ even after she relocated with her husband to the south coast, KwaZulu Natal, as a freelance lecturer and facilitator for the College. She rejoined the college in 2014, and apart from her sound HR knowledge and skills, over the years she has amassed a tremendous amount of organisational knowledge and history. She is relocating to the UK to be with her partner. Lesley will continue to offer a pure HR service to the College on a retainer basis, working remotely. Lesley has committed to this for three months, reviewable at the end of that period. Lesley is a keen supporter of the College, and relishes the opportunity to continue to support it, and be part of it whilst it remains feasible for her to do so, and whilst it is mutually beneficial to both parties.

The College already has key staff who work remotely, and will always have, due to a number of factors that make sense, and ensure the College is able to utilize highly skilled personnel and have access to expertise it would otherwise not be able to tap into.