Healthy minds, healthier remote workers

It’s a strange new world that we’re living in, one in which the digitalisation of the traditional office is happening at a rapid rate. Many businesses are reaping the benefits of remote work in a society where going into the office no longer seems necessary (not to mention that it could present an array of health dangers).

It’s not all moonshine and roses, though. Some of the biggest challenges for businesses who have opted to experiment with remote work (or even implement it permanently) include managing productivity and cultivating corporate culture from a distance. There are, fortunately, a wide range of strategies that you can adopt to improve remote productivity while maintaining and growing a corporate culture.

Establish the basic productivity/communication tools

Using only email as a channel of communication in today’s corporate/commercial climate won’t cut it anymore. Encouraging better remote work relies on alternatives to the channels that make office-based work easy.

This means that you will need to make use of the following:

Project management tools – This provides an alternative to the standard to-do-list and constant check-ins about project progress. Not only are many of these tools great for online work, but we also find it difficult to believe that in-office work won’t benefit from such tools. If you can track the work being done by your employees, you can also be ready to jump in and help them if something seems amiss.

Instant messaging tools – You will need an alternative to turning your chair around and chatting to your colleagues, which makes instant messaging so attractive. Need to ask a quick-fire question to your used-to-be office neighbour? Just ping them a message.

Video calling applications – Out of the office you no longer possess the ease of access to a boardroom, which means that your meetings must be held virtually (no, not all meetings could have been an email). We are social creatures after all, so take advantage of the video functionality to ensure your employees don’t become faceless—that’s a big no-no for creating a strong company culture while working remotely.

Make sure to prioritise employee wellbeing

One thing that a worldwide pandemic has taught us is that remote work can be lonesome work. While many everyday workers have found their time away from an office-setting a lonely affair, it is hardly an unavoidable situation. There are a few ways in which you can improve your employees’ relationships towards one another—yes, we’re talking real interpersonal connection—and yourself even within a remote work setting:

Make check-ins a thing

One sure-fire way to protect against the onset of remote work isolationism is to check up on your employees without making it about work. Find out how they’re doing, what they’re reading, eating, listening to, enjoying, and what they feel anxious about. It is tempting to just let your employees continue their day-to-day activities with minimal contact, but there are better alternatives. Check-ins make your relationships personal and indicate that you care.

Go team-building

Once the pandemic subsides (and granted your remote workforce isn’t scattered across the globe) you might want to go run an obstacle course to encourage teamwork, but until then, it remains possible to do teamwork exercises and create a tangible company culture by digital means. Try your hands at a virtual escape room, play digital boardgames, host a trivia night. The possibilities are numerous and help your team become more comfortable with each other, reminding them that the people they work with are also worth getting to know.

Encourage productive spaces and productive mindsets

Take a moment right now to sit/stand up straight. Done? Puff up your chest ever so slightly. put your hands on your waist and put on a smile (even if you have to force it). Did you feel anything? A boost of confidence perhaps? Did your fake smile perhaps turn into a real one? There are a lot of psychological ‘life-hacks’ that can help you maintain a positive attitude. The same can be done to make remote work more welcoming for a productive mindset.

Encourage dedicated workspaces

Have you ever tried to commit to a whole day of working out of the bed? Was it a struggle to stay productive? Your environment has a massive effect on your levels of productivity. Make sure to encourage your staff to set aside a space specifically for work in their homes. If they can dedicate an entire room to work, there may even be tax-benefits for them if you encourage this practice. Speak to your tax adviser to see how it can be done and how you can help your staff out.

Dress for the job

It can be easy to get stuck in your pyjamas for the entire day if no-one is watching, but once again it does not have a positive psychological impact on your levels of productivity. Encourage your staff to dress appropriately for work and encourage good hygiene. These basic tasks can have a long-lasting impact on the mindset of your employees.

If you are able to implement all these tips and give your employees a feeling of satisfaction in their remote work while encouraging productivity, you stand in good stead to cultivate better people doing better work.


This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)




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IC Marais

Professional experience:

IC Marais is a certified CA (SA) with public sector and private sector technical knowledge based on 5 years’ Public Sector accounting, auditing and financial management experience and 5 years audit, tax and accounting experience. Detailed knowledge of private and public sector accounting and auditing standards (GRAP, IPSAS, IFRS, IAS, ISA) and public sector financial legislation (MFMA, etc.)

He enjoys the outdoors, hunting and fishing.


Professional experience:

In 1995, Schalk started as a trainee at Warner and Newton (which became Moores Rowland in 1997 and then Mazars Moores Rowland in 2007) in Bloemfontein. In 1998, Schalk was appointed as manager at Moores Rowland, where he became a partner in 2003. Schalk received his Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Taxation in 2006 and in 2009 he received his Certificate in the Administration of Estates.


Professional experience:

Cedric started as a trainee at Warner and Newton (which became Moores Rowland in 1997 and Mazars Moores Rowland in 2007), Bloemfontein, in 1986. After completion of his articles, he joined the Special Investigations Division of the Department of Finance (SA Revenue Services) as a senior inspector from 1990 to 1991.


Professional experience:

Lucha started her career as a tax inspector at the Inland Revenue Department of New Zealand. After this she worked in commerce in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

On her return to South Africa, she completed her CA training contract with us and has been with Newtons ever since. She became a Partner in 2012.

Apart from her CA(SA) qualification she also holds a postgraduate certificate in Advanced Taxation (2005) and has the overall responsibility for training as our Training Officer.