Thursday, 15 July 2021


Malaysia has achieved its daily COVID-19 vaccination rate target of 300,000 whereby approximately 30% of population has gotten at least one shot. But these numbers offer little reprieve as new infection rates are yet to show signs of easing off.

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How much longer do companies have to wait until it is entirely safe to call all of their employees back to the office? After fifteen long months of work from home, the future is still uncertain, and companies are rightfully to be worried about the long-term effect on workforce productivity affecting their baseline.

While bigger organisations and multinational companies were mostly already equipped with productivity and virtual working platforms due to their bigger infrastructure, better funding and necessity for remote geography working, it was a different scenario altogether for smaller businesses and offices unprepared for a pandemic and first time to work from home.

So, what can businesses learn from the bigger organisations in order to prosper and achieve productivity while working at home given these circumstances? Let’s read on.


Malaysia COVID-19 Vaccination Drive and Work from Home

When the movement control order (MCO) was first put into place, about 44% of Malaysian workers were reported to have worked from home. But this arrangement has primarily been attributed to standard workers and employees, whereas only a quarter of self-employed small businesses was able to work from home.

The return to normalcy has not been without challenges. Initially, the National Immunisation Programme (PICK) following the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations, prioritized medical and enforcement front liners followed by high risk age group citizens.

But the rampant infection among factory workers and service sectors meant that essential workforce like manufacturing and economic front liners had to be prioritized to strengthen the country’s economy and avoid entire country being incapacitated. Meanwhile, non-essential workers have no choice but to wait a little longer.


Is Work from Home Still a Viable Option After the Pandemic?

Business owners in favour of their employees physically returning to office will have to contend with virtual teamworking for a while.

In view of this situation, businesses should be open to making the flexible office as a permanent option in the future and consider planning a better long-term work from home policy. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • The risk of COVID-19 will continue to persist. New virus mutations are being reported to be of higher transmissibility and severity, which raises the chances of possible future lockdowns and inability of businesses to operate at 100% occupancy onsite.
  • The job market is leaning favourably towards flexible working arrangements as more are finding it difficult to obtain childcare help and younger generation prefer remote working online as they have access to well-paying jobs from high-demand offshore markets.
  • Cost-efficient productivity tools are accessible to enterprises and small businesses, thus allowing them to plan for long-term hybrid work models. The widespread availability of the mobile internet also means better connectivity to all.
  • Government initiatives and incentives such as the MyDigital and 4IR that promote the digitization of SMEs, and grants from the MDEC PENJANA campaign and Ministry of Finance (MOF).
  • Better productivity results gained through efficient work from home management.


Work from Home - What is Required

Real-world observations have clearly shown that companies like the technology giants or multinational corporations were able to facilitate work from home options to their employees while still achieving high workforce productivity due to these main factors:

  • They have access to digital infrastructure and technological advancements
  • Skilled work that does not involve direct handling of physical objects
  • Business operations that could be automated and moved online
  • Work from home policy definitions such as work hours, productivity measurements, and tracking work progress

Meanwhile, most small businesses and public sector offices have their network tied to their physical workplace, limiting real work-from-home options. Other establishments such as those in IT, real estate, and financial sectors may have the necessary infrastructure to support working remotely online but lacking company policy to do so.

Such establishments accounted for only 5% of the Malaysia workforce and were typically located in advanced urban areas. Based on national employment data, it was estimated that anywhere from 28% to 65% of jobs in Malaysia can actually be performed from home.


How Technology Enables Work from Home

Work from home requires the right use of technology in order to ensure workforce productivity. Some of the basic technology requirements to enable remote working online includes:

  • Quality and high-speed Internet access for both the company and its employees, whether mobile or on fixed line
  • Hardware requirements such as network infrastructure, individual computer units and mobile communications devices for the employees must be taken care of
  • Digitisation and automation of business operations including cloud-based solutions and filesharing among remote workers
  • Collaborative work tools that promote better engagement and communication. Unlike the physical office, following up on a task's progress can be made easier with the help of productivity tools and virtual meeting platforms.
  • Advanced cybersecurity tools to secure endpoint communications. As more employees started working remotely, there will also be the need to protect important files on their mobile devices


Work from Home, Digital Culture and Workforce Productivity

Businesses have much to consider in order to ensure work from home can actually bring in the productivity they seek. While having the best tools may provide the critical element for enabling work from home, they need to rethink their communication styles and adapt to a digital working culture. For the most part, work from home policies have to be formalized with clear guidelines and expectations set.

In remote working, employees have to be comfortable using communication tools beyond the usual email or chat messenger and be adept at using online video conferencing tools like Zoom for adhoc meetings and other events. Businesses will have to train their workforce in using digital collaborative workspaces like Teams or Slack effectively. Having frequent online events like virtual townhalls, online huddles and team celebrations are some of the ways businesses can keep their workforce engaged and productive while creating a digital culture.


Digital Transformation and Best Solutions Partner

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Given the current circumstances, it is clear that digitalisation is necessary for most Malaysian businesses to be able to prosper and achieve workforce productivity while work from home. So, what should businesses serious about it do next?

Taking the first step towards digital transformation is easy and within reach. Even without the technical know-how, businesses need not go about the implementation on their own. Getting help from an expert that can guide the company through and facilitate adoption would be the best option.

Here are some factors that should be considered before choosing a work from home and productivity solution partner that works best for you:

  • End-to-end solution. The solutions partner would be able to provide both the technology and implementation part of the remote working solution.
  • Trust and reputation. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to work from home model and engaging a trusted and reputable partner will likely guarantee a successful implementation
  • Expertise in digital transformation. An expert solution partner not only provide the right technology but also have the digital business acumen and able to transfer the know-how of transforming the business without losing touch of company’s values and core operations.


Celcom - Your One-Stop Digital Solutions Provider

Celcom have been standing with Malaysian businesses for more than 30 years to deliver the widest mobile network nationwide. As a one-stop digital solutions provider, we bring a comprehensive and end-to-end service ranging from connectivity to innovative business solutions that is tailored to simplify the digitalisation of your business and enhance productivity.

Consult our sales personnel for more information on our range of business solutions, products and services.