Friday, 30 July 2021


With vaccination ramping up, Malaysians are still somewhat away from seeing the light at the end of a pandemic-stricken tunnel. Yet, when we do get there, the new normal that we’re heading to will be nothing like the pre-pandemic norms.

Businesses continue to grapple with uncertainties, and a major concern is how to manage their workforce to optimise productivity.

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Is Your Smart Office Ideal For A Pandemic-Stricken Environment?

Malaysian business owners and corporate executives need to deal with the fact that physical distancing in the workplace is likely to remain for years to come. It’s high time to re-examine if your current business suite is optimised for productivity in the new norm.

Many large corporations in Malaysia boast a smart office setup. The usage of business software, smart conference rooms, and other office technologies have increased workspace productivity in the past.

However, having a highly digitalised physical office meant very little when the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Public healthcare policies have resulted in the majority of non-essential employees to work from home.

Companies with ‘smart technologies’ constrained to physical spaces are taken by surprise. Many scrambled to adopt the needed technologies to minimise disruptions as their employees embrace a new culture.


Is Work From Home A Sustainable Practice?

The knee-jerk reaction for corporate managers is to transition towards a full work-from-home practice. With cloud solutions like Slack, Zoom, and Asana, it seems like having employees reporting to work from home is an ideal choice.

As appealing as the option is, companies that have adopted the practice reported drawbacks from doing so. Google, for example, wants their engineers back in the office despite reporting a productivity boost.

The search engine giant noted a decrease in collaboration and social connection when their employees work in isolation. After all, humans are social creatures, and nothing could replace physical interaction.

Therefore, you’ll need a compromise between a remote workspace and a physical office. In other words, you need a smart hybrid office.


Benefits Of A Smart Hybrid Office

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The smart hybrid office setup is increasingly a popular choice amongst corporates, and for good reasons.

  • Better Employee Engagement

    It’s hard to keep your employees engaged and motivated when they are scattered at different locations. With a hybrid office, both remote and on-site employees can stay connected via collaborative solutions. Unlike a full work from home culture, employees no longer feel isolated or out of touch with their managers as they still have access to the office.

  • Improve Collaboration

    Meetings through Zooms or Skype are only effective to a certain extent. Sometimes, ideas are better expressed through physical presence. You cannot dismiss the importance of face-to-face discussion despite the abundance of virtual communication tools. The hybrid office setup enables employees to collaborate better with both physical interactions and virtual meetings.

  • Productivity Boost

    Some employees claim they are more productive working from home, while others deal with incessant distractions from kids and families. Either way, having a hybrid office allows employees to choose the best productive work environment that suits them.

  • Reduced Physical Space

    With employees spending most of their time at home, you can reduce physical space and rentals. Conventional cubicles, which take up a lot of space, are no longer required in the hybrid working model. Instead, you’ll have a simpler workspace setup that leans heavily towards collaborative spaces.


How To Transform Your Smart Office For A Hybrid Workforce

Chances are, your company is no stranger to technologies. Evolving into a hybrid workspace involves adopting new technologies and adjusting your current setup. Here are the common features of a smart hybrid office.

  • Co-working spaces

    With employees checking into the office occasionally, there’s no longer a need for dedicated workstations. Instead, the hybrid office will be equipped with hotdesks, shared meeting rooms and possibly a tantalising snack bar, which bears similarity to co-working spaces favoured by startups.

  • Cloud Productivity and Tracking Apps

    Your existing software may work well for tracking employee’s productivity within the premise. But with the flexibility to work from home, you’ll need cloud storage and apps to manage projects, share information and track the progress of both remote and in-office employees.

  • Business Process Automation

    With increased flexibility granted to employees, you need a better way to manage operations. This calls for business process automation, which involves the utilisation of artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate repetitive processes. These technologies also enable you to take a personalised approach to manage employees.

  • Cybersecurity

    Adopting cloud solutions is part and parcel of moving towards a hybrid office. Allowing remote access to company resources inevitably introduces the risk of cyber attack or malware injection. Therefore, it’s important to invest in cybersecurity solutions, such as an anti-malware subscription and a VPN.

  • Culture Management

    Even with the flexibility of physical interaction, employees will spend most of their time working in isolation and may sometimes feel disconnected. Consider hiring a Chief Happiness Officer or similar positions to care for your employees' well-being and ensure they feel appreciated.



At the moment of writing, the shift towards a smarter, hybrid office space is happening at a rapid pace. With the pro-longed pandemic and a myriad of other factors, it seems to be a sensible choice moving forward.


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