The hybrid work arrangement option
AFTER two painful years ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses must rebuild themselves.
Collapsing businesses and deteriorating incomes have led to increased unemployment and declining incomes amid rising spending has become a worrying trend.
Companies must change their working arrangements as the government pushes the work-from-home program. Employees, on the other hand, had the ability to work remotely and, to some extent, productivity increased, according to the consultants.
In the new normal work environment, there is also a lot of thought about hybrid working arrangements coupled with challenges that impact productivity.
Low Choy Huat, Human Resources Consulting Services Partner of EY Consulting Sdn Bhd, Tan Hooi Beng, Talent Leader at Deloitte Malaysia, Indra Dhanu Dipak, Director of Human Resources and Organization at PwC Malaysia, and Sharmini Ann Jacob, Executive Director of Human Resources and Change Consulting at KPMG Malaysia, share their thoughts.
StarBizWeek: How should organizations strategize for their workforce as the country moves from crisis response phase to recovery phase? Mooing: As we move into the recovery phase, organizations should re-evaluate their strategic workforce options on “how they work”, “where they work” and “when they work”. Hybrid work arrangements are an option to consider, as not all employees feel safe returning to work. The Covid-19 work-from-home arrangement was a huge experiment to see if some work could be done remotely without sacrificing productivity and culture. Therefore, a balance between office and remote working is strongly encouraged as an option.
Tan: With the experience of managing Covid-19, organizations should exploit the best practices discovered during the various blockages and adopt them as part of their post-pandemic plans. Organizations need to think about the changing landscape of work as a whole, beyond the pandemic. They must adapt and rotate to meet the different needs of the workplace and workforce.
Indra: Organizations need to look beyond traditional talent channels, including taking advantage of short-term virtual assignments supported by talent in geographically dispersed locations, allowing job rotation to tap latent skills, or exploring options for career return for those who have taken a career break. They should also find new ways to digitize their workforce to meet new expectations for productivity and efficiency in this landscape. As such, companies need to create a flexible working environment, as flexibility is increasingly becoming a factor in employee retention and engagement.
Sharmini: Our “KPMG 2021 CEO Outlook” survey found that 68% of CEOs in Asia Pacific are investing more in purchasing new technology and building human capacity, with 49% planning to invest in training, development and skills development. digital technology to ensure that employees’ skills remain forward-looking.
Are organizations struggling with productivity issues and what solutions should they consider? Tan: On the contrary, productivity increased during the confinement period. With less time spent on travel, traffic, and transit time between meetings, we’re now using every minute to the max. We now do more in a day’s work. What is of more concern is lockdown fatigue where people continually work out with little rest and relaxation.
Sharmini: According to KPMG’s “The Work-From-Home Revolution 2020” survey, information from more than 3,000 respondents revealed that those who had the ability and capacity to take advantage of communication platforms and were ready to adopting new technologies have reported an increase in their level of productivity. However, from an organizational perspective, the top three challenges that have a major impact on productivity levels within Malaysian companies include network issues, communication barriers, and lack of technological readiness.
Mooing: Automation is the most effective way to manage productivity. The automation of robotic processes and digital tools can help defuse the “trust deficit” between employers and employees when someone is not physically seen at the office. Numerous studies have also shown that empowerment can motivate employees to deliver more and, as a result, improve productivity.
Will unemployment continue to be a problem and what solutions should governments, businesses and unemployed / laid off / on leave consider? Mooing: One way to fight unemployment is to learn new, forward-looking skills that are in high demand by employers and various sectors of the economy. The government has launched numerous programs and incentives to retrain the Malaysian workforce. However, execution is the key. The success of these initiatives will depend on factors such as adoption rates, speed of retraining as well as individual motivation to upgrade or retrain.
Sharmini: The government should continue its efforts to create jobs, pushing for the transformation and digitalization of businesses, thus enabling Malaysian industries to remain internationally competitive and resilient to the future business landscape. In turn, organizations should take advantage of these stimulus initiatives and plans that include wage subsidies, retraining and development programs, hiring, and the provision of training assistance to continue to expand their network of people. talents and equip their employees with the skills they need to thrive in this digital economy.
With the support initiatives available to create a stronger demand for jobs in line with the transition to the digital economy, Malaysian job seekers can also venture into entrepreneurship and business creation.
Indra: PwC Malaysia’s 2021 Hopes and Fears Survey of Technology, Jobs and Skills found that 71% of Malaysians surveyed fear automation could endanger the jobs of many people. The solution could very well lie in a multidimensional approach involving government, companies and training providers, and individuals.
Businesses can help by providing advice on the nature and types of skills required in consultation with government or, more granularly, participate in programs to impart digital skills to deserving groups, whether they are micro, small and medium enterprises or those who have been made redundant or unemployed. What is encouraging is that 88% of the people questioned in our survey say they are ready to learn new skills or to retrain completely in order to be employable in the future.
Will the different work demands of the office create an attraction for employees, perhaps for those who prefer to work from home? Mooing: Yes, it depends on the workforce strategy and approach. The “new office” should aim to attract employees to come back to collaborate, share and reconnect. Based on our “Employee Survey Reinvented by Work 2021,” employees expect their employers to provide better collaboration technology, spaces for collaboration or innovation, and improved facilities for implementation. network.
Tan: Some new practices adopted during the movement control order are expected to continue, for example hybrid working modalities. This opens up possibilities to further improve certain initiatives, for example, greater flexibility for working parents and those who have to care for elderly parents or sick family members.
Indra: Fifty-five percent of Malaysians polled in our 2021 Hopes and Fears survey prefer a predominantly virtual work environment. Offering some form of remote work should become the hygiene factor, as flexibility and well-being are increasingly valued in this disruptive landscape. Organizations that might not be able to scale will face stiff competition in the war for talent as remote or hybrid work quickly becomes an expectation among talent.
Sharmini: Studies have shown that the different working arrangements an organization offers are more likely to attract a larger pool of talent. People will now have the ability to engage with organizations in a different geographic area due to the ability to work without traveling. The flexibility in offering options for working from home or the office will greatly inspire employees, especially millennials.
The global forecast has said that by 2025, millennials will make up more than half of the workforce, and from what we’ve seen, flexibility and freedom are their top priorities. Most seem to like the idea of being “digital nomads”, that is, traveling the world while still being employed.
However, we also need to be careful and consider how different working arrangements affect communication, performance, compensation, data security, regulation as well as policies within the organization.