Are you ready to embrace remote work?

It was a norm during Malaysia's movement control order — but will the policy remain post lockdown?

Are you ready to embrace remote work?

Almost seven in 10 Malaysian employees said working from home should be part of the ‘new normal’ amidst the pandemic.

However, only half of employers (56%) are supportive of extending the benefit.

Overall, the recent study did reveal that many employees (64%) face challenges while working from home during the country’s movement control order (MCO) period.

Top three difficulties cited by employees was:

  • Network or connection issues (61%)
  • Communication barrier (14%)
  • Lack of technology readiness (10%)

When asked what they believe would improve their work from home experience, employees said stable connection, better IT infrastructure, as well as clear employer guidelines on remote work.

Unsurprisingly, the KPMG study found that companies that communicated clear policies and provided frequent updates saw a boost in employee support (+21%) for remote work.

READ MORE: COVID-19: Can you refuse to return to work?

The survey also highlighted HR’s vital role in facilitating the working arrangement. When HR played an active role, employeesperceived productivity increased by 7%, while sentiments towards working from home and ease of transition increased positively by 7% and 8%.

Additionally, companies that leverage on collaboration tools as their main mode of communication while working from home reported the highest productivity levels (77%) compared to other modes of communication.

Despite this, only half of employees said they used the tools while working from home.

Thanks to COVID-19, the workforce in Malaysia and around the world was abruptly thrust into a global experiment on remote working,” said Chan Siew Mei, Head of Advisory in Malaysia at KPMG.

“The learning curve has been steep, not just for the employees but also for business leaders as they scrambled to set up the necessary infrastructure and provide the required training and support to keep disruptions to operations at a minimum during the MCO.”

READ MORE: MCO: Malaysian companies 'not forced' to reopen

Sharmini Ann Jacob, executive director of KPMGs People and Change Advisory in Malaysia piped in that the study affirms HR’s role as a key enabler in helping organisations ease through transitions and keeping employees engaged and productive in the new normal.

But above all, Chan said strong leadership is crucial in times of crisis — whether to empower HR to implement measures or to effectively navigate the organisation through the pandemic.

Irrespective of readiness or desire, this pandemic has boosted the work from home movement to be a required reality for the masses,” Chan said.

“Its clear from our study that committed leadership from the top is required to help employees quickly overcome the challenges to adapt to this new normal. The faster the company can adapt, the less impact there will be to disruptions in operations.”

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