Financial Mail

Smooth operations

As lockdown regulation­s are eased, more South Africans will return to their workplaces, and will rely on their employers to keep them safe

- Nafisa Akabor

ý SA is set to shift from lockdown Level 4 to 3 from June, but some rules and regulation­s regarding movement and businesses that are allowed to operate will remain as long as the lockdown is in place.

Thankfully, relaxed regulation­s will soon apply to some businesses. In the first such move, the government gave the all-clear to online business to resume trading earlier this month.

Guys Kappers, CEO of

Wyzetalk, a mobile-first digital employee engagement company, says businesses need to pay careful attention to the new rules and regulation­s of workforce movement under levels 4 and 3 to ensure a smooth transition back to the workplace.

“As the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown lifts, many organisati­ons are facing the challenge of co-ordinating the restart of their operation. We’ve seen a strong drive to navigate this new way of working from the businesses that we partner with. Uppermost in their minds is employee engagement, health and safety,” says Kappers.

Employees need to be kept informed, and those who can return to work must be supplied with permits for travel, he says. “Businesses also need to prepare their employees for the strict regulation­s that need to be adhered to once they are on site.”

Wyzetalk facilitate­s a Covid-19 screening pre-evaluation form that employees complete before leaving home. Based on the informatio­n they provide, they are assigned a score: those deemed to be without risk can return to work. If their score implies that they don’t meet the minimum health requiremen­ts, they will be asked to remain at home, or seek medical attention.

“These simple technologi­cal capabiliti­es can prove to be significan­t in helping businesses to continue operating effectivel­y.”

Wyzetalk says because it has establishe­d the ability to do this, it can remain highly responsive to changes as new government announceme­nts are made. “If there is a new permit required tomorrow, that wasn’t necessary today, we can enable that,” says Kappers.

But have businesses managed the additional administra­tive burden that has come with complying with Covid-19 regulation­s?

Nicholas Revelas, manager at restaurant X Burger & The Pizza Bar in Joburg, says getting travel permits for his staff was easy. He was able to print them immediatel­y online. “I shared the digital permits with my staff on Whatsapp, for them to use on their first day back. Thereafter I gave them printed ones, with an additional company letterhead that was certified to state the nature of their work.”

Revelas believes the difference­s between the levels of lockdown are “much of a muchness”.

“I don’t see it as a difference between opening up or closing an hour early. My biggest concern is at what point my customers stop having disposable income; I need 100% of all my customers to be earning their salaries.”

The restaurant used to rely on deliveries as an add-on, but Revelas says now it might be the main platform to get customers, which isn’t sustainabl­e. “The restaurant and takeaway model isn’t what it used to be. A lot of us run on a 5050 model at the moment, where 50% is food costs and 30% goes to delivery apps, and 20% isn’t enough to cover staff, rentals, and so on.”

Businesses may find that in practice there is little difference between levels 4 and 3. For example, books, hardware equipment and cars were supposed to be sold only under level 3. However, all are available now. The postal service

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