Malaysian employees want to continue working from home when restrictions ease: EY

  • Eight in 10 employees want to continue working from home when pandemic restrictions ease
  • Widespread flexible working making more demands for technology for on-site and in the home office.

Malaysian employees want to continue working from home when restrictions ease: EYSOME eight out of 10 Malaysian employees would prefer to work from home as compared to working from office full time when the pandemic restrictions ease locally, according to a new study by consulting firm EY

Dubbed the “EY 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey,” the global survey noted that only 22% of Malaysia employees surveyed would prefer to work from office full-time after the pandemic eases.

In a statement, the survey EY released also noted that the majority of workers in Malaysia would prefer to work anywhere (23%), work remotely full time (29%), or in a hybrid work arrangement (25%), defined as a mix of in-office and remote working.

These figures are consistent with preferences revealed by employees surveyed from around the world, comprising more than 16,000 employees across 16 countries, including Malaysia. The sample size for Malaysia is 249.

The survey was conducted using a third-party panel and targeted employees who work for organisations with at least 500 employees.

Survey data is segmented by 24 different personal and work-related demographics and preferences. Participant responses ranged from 21-years-old to over 65-years-old, with responses from senior leaders and individuals at all different functions.

The survey was aimed at exploring employee attitudes and experiences to work throughout the pandemic and into the “next normal,” EY said.

The study found that among Malaysia respondents, nine in 10 employees want flexibility in where and when they work, in the absence of which almost half (45%) would consider leaving their job post Covid-19 pandemic.

Given the choice between two jobs, their preferences were evenly split: Forty eight per cent would choose flexibility in when they work and 47% would choose flexibility in where they work, EY noted.

On average, employees would want to work between two and three days remotely after the pandemic, with more than a third (36%) of respondents saying they want a shorter working week altogether, EY said.

The majority (63%) believe their productivity can be accurately measured irrespective of location. Yet, there is a strong perception (72%) that this arrangement would impact their access to career opportunities, it added.

Despite the apparent willingness to move jobs for more flexible working arrangements, most employee respondents (75%) say they are satisfied with their jobs, and almost all (89%) say they plan to stay in their current roles for the following 12 months, EY noted.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a major shift in where we work, when we work and how we work,” said Tan Lay Keng, people advisory services leader for EY Asean and Malaysia .

Tan said employers who promote hybrid work arrangements and provide the flexibility for employees to work anywhere and anytime, are ahead of the curve.

These employers are likely to have better employee attraction, retention and satisfaction in the long run, which could positively impact the business, she added.

“Employees surveyed saw employers taking steps to enable them to work productively and to better manage their workload in this new hybrid environment.

“By investing in collaboration technology, providing employee benefits that support home office set-up and building a strong teaming culture, these employers are likely to be more successful in this new normal.”

Improving productivity and creativity

The survey also canvassed attitudes to existing work practices, with employee respondents broadly positive about the impact of remote working, EY said.

Almost half (54%) say their organisational culture has changed and improved during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, while only 32% believe it has worsened.

Beyond its impact on culture, the majority of respondents agreed that a new mix of onsite and remote work would increase the company’s productivity (67%) and creativity (71%).

EY said as employers adapted to offer hybrid work arrangements, they have had to change their work practices to better manage productivity during the pandemic.

It added that respondents observed changes ranging from establishing “meeting/ email-free” times for the team/ company (46%), using productivity tools (46%), setting aside time on calendar for individual/focused work (45%), establishing clear working hours for work-life balance (45%), and reducing meeting times to 25 from 45 minutes to allow for breaks in between meetings (35%).

However, the study also noted that the prospect of increasingly widespread flexible working is leading to more demands for technology, both on-site and in the home office.

Malaysian employees want to continue working from home when restrictions ease: EYEighty one per cent of respondents say they want better technology in the office such as faster internet and videoconferencing, and more than half say they want companies to upgrade at-home hardware such as extra monitors and headsets (59%), and would like reimbursement for high-speed internet/phone expenses (51%).

Despite the shift toward new ways of working and the rapid adoption of virtual meeting technology, 63% would like to travel for business moderately to extensively after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As companies seek to reposition for growth in the recovery from the pandemic, their talent is likely to be their most important asset.

“Employers will need to constantly review their employee engagement strategies, the impact of employee sentiments on culture and productivity, and the technological investments that are needed to sustain an optimized in-person, hybrid and digital work experience,” said Tan (pic).


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