Different Types of Working Remotely

Do employees work as effectively from their living room as they do from their office desk?


Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020 and the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) by the Malaysian government, businesses in Malaysia were forced to explore the option of working remotely from home. A year later, this unconventional working concept has divided opinions in the corporate society and inspired debates about whether employees work as effectively from their living room as they do from their office desk.

As of today, multiple multinational companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Spotify, and Siemens have switched to ‘long-term’ remote working arrangements. Therefore, this suggests that it does work positively for them (more obvious in the IT industries). However, there are no-one-size-fits all kind of policy adopted by these companies. Instead, they have customised the arrangements (i.e. employment terms, benefits and etc.) to suit their businesses and work routine.

This article will discuss the types of working arrangements available in the market. It’s therefore important to understand the types of working arrangement in order for your company to determine the terms and conditions applicable. Moreover, it can help to maintain or increase the level of employee’s productivity while working away from the office.

Remote Work: Remote work implies that a person is employed in order to work from any location that he/she desires without having to ever come to the office space. This arrangement also helps companies to break boundaries in obtaining suitable talents as they are not limited to hire employees within the country vicinity.

Work From Home (WFH): WFH is a work arrangement where the employee can work from his/her home for a period of time. This arrangement is commonly used in Malaysia during this pandemic where employees are flexible to come into the office for a few days in a week/month while working from home for the rest of the time. Frequently, a working schedule will be agreed upon beforehand.

Telecommuting: Telecommuting or telework denotes an employee who works from a remote location but might have to come into the office space some time or the other. This concept is a hybrid of the above arrangements. Employees are expected to enter into the office as and when they are required for example for meeting or projects and are expected to reside within the office area for easy commuting.

Each of the above working arrangements will have its pros and cons, respectively. The main differences can be evaluated from the perspective of the working environment, travelling, engagement levels and accountability. It’s crucial that the company evaluates the business and employees suitability before implementing a policy.

A big concern for companies in Malaysia is the protection of employees’ health and safety while working remotely. The current coverage under the Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) is seemingly vague when it comes to claims arising from remote working arrangements. As usual, they will treat each claim with an investigation and determine its application on a case-to-case basis. However, it does not stop companies from formulating their own coverage principles to support and protect their employees’ well-being.

Different Types of Working Remotely
Dzulfadhli bin Lamin
Lead Consultant
MECA South Sdn Bhd

Looking at the daily number of COVID patients, it seems like we have to anticipate a longer period of MCO. In order to ensure business sustainability, employers are advised to explore the possibility of implementing modern-age working arrangements such as the above concepts. Be mindful to comply with the existing laws and regulations and to seek consultation to better safeguard the desired arrangements.