More and more employees are encourage to work from home that remote working becomes the new home. However, since not all tasks can be performed remotely, recent survey showed there might be a drop in worker productivity levels during the conditional movement control order (MCO) period.
Commenting on this finding, Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Datuk Shamsudin Bardan said not all tasks can be performed remotely, especially those in the operation and service sectors.
“Companies, after the implementation of the conditional MCO, have adjusted work arrangements for their employees through staggered shifts and working hours, alternate work days or weeks, ” he said.
Based on a report by AON titled Covid-19 Epidemic Employee Pulse Survey Report Malaysia, a majority (74 percent) of employees in the country have been fully working from home during the MCO period.
“It can be concluded that both employers and employees, especially from management level, are ready to work from home. With the conditional MCO effective from May 4, staff who reported for duty was about 44 percent, indicating that employers were adhering to the SOP and putting their staff on a rotation basis,” Shamsudin said.
However, Shamsudin said the work from home concept comes with challenges if not properly structured, such as inefficiency, demotivated employees and a poor working relationship between workers and management, The Star Online reports.
“Based on the report, 77 percent of employees indicated a drop in their productivity levels and only 23 percent of employees are able to maintain the same or higher productivity levels. A total of 56 percent of the employees who have indicated an increase in workload have also experienced a drop in productivity.
“Among the reasons include technology issues involving Internet speed and access to email or company system (59 percent), reduced access to resources (49 percent), delays in response time and decision making (42 percent) and family interference or distractions (39 percent), ” he said.
In order to improve worker’s performance when working remotely, Shamsuddin said there is a need for employee upskilling and reskilling and enabling them to use technological tools more efficiently.
SME Association president Datuk Michael Kang said only a fraction of macro SMEs have the means to let their staff work from home, as many have been hit hard during the MCO. He said work from home is not viable for most SMEs, of which 90 percent are in the service industry.
Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) SMEs committee chairman Koong Lin Loong said that the Covid-19 pandemic has however created opportunities for businesses to go online and adopt digitalisation.
“The pandemic has certainly pushed forward digitalisation for several years in advance and changed the mindsets of many businessmen, ” he added.
Permodalan Nasional Berhad president and group chief executive Jalil Rasheed said employing work flexibility permanently is the logical thing to do, as “work from home is now a permanent option, not just a MCO arrangement.”