• Restuarant group Ocean Basket’s Global People Leader Stiaan Pienaar believes it is good for employees at the company’s head office to spend time together. 
  • This is because Pienaar believes that a lot of informal conversations and connections take place when people are physically together. 
  • He said Covid-19 naturally disrupted working from the office, and therefore the company had to adjust to it. 

It is good for employees working at Ocean Basket’s head office in Midrand, Johannesburg, to spend time in the office to build relationships, the restaurant group’s Global People Leader Stiaan Pienaar believes.

Pienaar uses the example of the morning coffee that he makes for his colleagues to illustrate the informal connections and conversations that take place when people are physically in the same space.

“I truly love coffee. I’m a coffee lover and a chocolate lover. And everybody that knows me in the office that I make myself a cup of coffee from our machine every morning. And I do offer to everybody else. I make coffee for everybody,” he said.

“Because it’s not only about the coffee. It’s never about the coffee. It’s about the fact that I can serve, I can be there for somebody and make them something.”

“We are together and we quickly catch up. We are there we are in each other’s faces. And we ask each other, ‘How have you been? How was yesterday? How was last week? How’s the little one?’”

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And that connection, Pienaar said, would not have happened if people weren’t physically in the same space.

“You always hear this thing that we say: ‘I’m here to do your job, and I’m gonna go home; I’m not here to make friends’. I don’t agree with that because you spent almost 90% of your day with this group of people.”

“But when we are physically together we realise the role each other plays, understanding how different departments, sections and business units all fit together to achieve the bigger picture.”

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Pienaar said the Covid-19 pandemic naturally disrupted employees’ normal work behaviour, and as a result, many had to adjust to the new world of work.

“We went from being together to being completely separated. Some people do enjoy and do flourish in that environment. We have to acknowledge it.

“But we have to find a balance in getting people to return to the office. It’s such an important part of human beings to connect and be together.”