Telecommuting: A Take on Productivity or Procrastination?

Home is where your productivity is. Or is it?


As the new generation starts streaming into the workforce, companies are attempting to shift the paradigm of working culture by adopting disruptive designs and working programmes to engender a more conducive working environment. Open office concept that features transparency and boasts lateral communication to greater emphasis on work-life balance resulted in a particular working arrangement favoured by a myriad of multinational companies — working from home or telecommuting which became an unavoidable reality during COVID-19 lockdowns around the world.

Based on a 2018 survey by TalentCorp, only 16% of Malaysian employers consider telecommuting as a potential working arrangement.

For starter, telecommuting presents a flexible schedule for employees. They are offered a certain extent of freedom and convenience to meet deadlines. For instance, some employees may have childcare to tend to so they can have peace of mind before attempting a project. Certain employees excel burning the night oil whereas some are productive in the wee hours of the morning. In addition, such comfort zones may induce creativity and results in higher productivity or better quality of work.

Though many appreciated the flexibility, the main setback is that telecommuters may be exposed to a higher level of distractions and propensity to procrastinate due to the flexibility and lack of monitoring. With media-on-demand, it is not surprising to discover telecommuters underperforming because of the latest season of a show being aired or they are spending working hours to check off the weekend list of chores.

Along a similar vein, office distractions exist too. For example, the dreaded yet inevitable office gossips which otherwise could be converted into clocked productive working hours.

Telecommuting may spell the end to micromanaging employees and numerous studies have shown that its efficacy in boosting productivity, but it is essential to acknowledge that telecommuting is highly dependent on the nature of the industry as well as personality of the individuals for it to be efficient.

So is Malaysia ready for this shift even post CMCO?

**The facts and views expressed are solely that of the author/authors and do not necessarily reflect that of the editorial board.