85% of professionals in M'sia consider remote working options 'more important' to them after pandemic — Hays report

85% of professionals in M'sia consider remote working options 'more important' to them after pandemic — Hays report
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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 19): A majority or 85% of professionals surveyed in Malaysia consider remote working options more important to them after the pandemic, according to recruitment expert Hays.

In the report titled "Uncovering the DNA of the Future Workplace in Asia", Hays said flexible working options and employee wellbeing are top priorities for job seekers in Asia as they look to the new era of work.

Eighty-one percent of respondents said flexible hours had become more important and 60% of those surveyed said structured hours had become less important to them.

While more employers have ramped up their remote working offerings from pre-pandemic of 31% to following post-pandemic of 54%, Hays said the survey findings show only a moderate increase in the number of employers who offered flexible hours pre-pandemic (47%) and post (51%). 

Hays noted that in terms of number of employers who offered flexible hours post-pandemic, Malaysia is the second lowest in Asia after Singapore (49%).

Additionally, 75% of respondents said employee wellbeing had become more important to them, but only 31% of organisations currently offered this, indicating a large gap.

Notably, Malaysia scored the highest in the region in terms of deeming work-life balance as important/very important (96%), as well as the highest percentage to say flexible working options (92%) and remote working options (81%) contributed to better work-life balance. 

At the same time, Malaysia was also most willing to compromise on work-life balance for increased salary or benefits (67%), indicating that the value they sought was more tangible than learning (42%), job security (41%) or feeling purpose and connection to their role (46%).

When asked what constituted meaningful work, 78% of respondents said "being part of an organisation that values employee wellbeing", followed by "opportunities to use specialised skills that are unique to you" (72%) and "being recognised and rewarded for your contributions" (66%).

However, only 41% of respondents currently experienced being part of an organisation that values employee wellbeing. 

When it comes to being recognised and rewarded, Malaysia’s organisations scored the lowest in Asia after Singapore (42%). 

While more organisations in Malaysia (40%) offered opportunities for workers to use specialised skillsets that are unique to them than most other countries, it still makes for less than half of the total.

“Malaysia’s workforce has long made a case for remote and flexible working, with many owing this sentiment to the long and often tedious commute to workplaces over large distances,” said Hays Malaysia managing director Tom Osborne.

“With the acceleration of digital adoption, it may be difficult for respondents in Malaysia to imagine a workplace that does not offer flexible working hours, if not remote working entirely,” he said.

Osborne also noted that the rising sentiment in favour of employee wellbeing is tied to flexibility, an important aspect of work-life balance, and is unlikely to dissipate in an increasingly volatile world. 

This report surveyed over 9,000 working professionals across Asia firstly in February 2020 and then later in the year from between September and October.

Joyce Goh