As the majority of Malaysia’s workforce continues to work from home, the UOB ASEAN Consumer Sentiment Study has found that flexible work arrangements are critical to achieving work-life balance as part of new working norms post- COVID-19.
More than eight in 10 Malaysia employees polled (81%) expecting that work-life balance will improve as working from home regularly becomes a permanent work option. 74% of respondents also expect their productivity will improve as they have greater freedom over how they manage their working hours. However, the firmness of this view varied significantly across the different age groups. The belief that the flexibility to manage one’s own working hours will result in higher productivity was most strongly- held by Generation Z (87%) and Generation Y (78%) employees. In comparison, 67% of Generation X respondents shared the same opinion.
Malaysian employees’ optimism over the future of work- life balance comes despite their bleaker sentiments on the impact of COVID-19 on job security. 90% employees in Malaysia feel they need to work longer hours to avoid losing their jobs.
Lai Tak Ming, Executive Director and Country Head of Human Resources, UOB Malaysia, said the pandemic has changed how organisations function. The changes made and the lessons learnt during the health crisis will continue to shape the future of work and the workplace in a post- COVID-19 world.
“In the past year, we’ve seen organisations and employees adjust to a new working environment after the pandemic hit. Employees moved from working in an office to a makeshift home office, while audio and video conference calls replaced face-to-face meetings. Although at first regarded as temporary measures in response to the threats of the pandemic, remote work is now part of the new working norm.
“Organisations are rethinking the future of work and the workplace, including exploring the best ways to help employees maintain work-life balance while improving productivity and engagement. At UOB Malaysia, we have been developing a hybrid working model in which employees in eligible roles can have the flexibility to work either in the office or remotely once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed,” Lai said.
Prioritising the well-being of employees
The impact of COVID-19 on people’s lives has also given rise to concerns about their well-being with three in five Malaysian residents (60%) worried about their mental health and happiness. In addition, 76% of Malaysian employees believe their employers will pay more attention to their staff’s well-being as a result of the lessons of COVID-19.
Among these respondents, those between the age of 18 to 23 years old (69%) and 24 to 39 years old (65%) expressed the greatest concern over their emotional well-being. These two groups of respondents also have the strongest view that their employers will focus more on workforce well-being.
“As we each do our part to contain the spread of COVID-19 by staying safe at home, the isolation over the past year may have taken a toll on our mental and emotional well-being. At UOB Malaysia, we have set up an online professional counselling service known as the UOB care-line to provide our colleagues with mental and emotional support as and when they need it. The same hotline is also available for immediate family members of our colleagues,” said Lai.