The pandemic has brought on a change in working habits locally and internationally. Companies have had to refocus their efforts in favor of safer and unconventional working methods. What would have been preposterous just a few years ago has now become the 'new normal'. But it’s not all bad.
The situation at hand has brought on a host of new ways to connect with one another through the sheer amount of technological solutions devised to make this shift efficient. Companies have had to settle for virtual meetings over weekly huddles in the office and task management apps to keep track of their employees workflow.
Additionally, the lack of working in an office has caused some companies to reconsider the need for a set working space entirely. While this isn't a new concept, with small startups consisting of small remote teams leveraging on co-working hubs for in-person meets, it didn't seem applicable to bigger companies at the time. Now, many employers have come to consider the benefits of not having a fixed office. Saves on rent too.
The Work-From-Home Initiative
If you were to ask anyone today whether they would prefer to work in-office or remotely, a majority might go for the latter. During the height of the pandemic, a myriad of companies were forced to continue their day-to-day operations from the comforts of their own home. Though it took some getting used to, many were quick to adapt to this shift and loved the sense of freedom that came with it.
According to the Ernst & Young Global Limited (EY) 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey, when asked among Malaysian respondents, a total of 9 in 10 employees craved the flexibility to decide when and where they work. Even as companies shift back into working in an office space, a number of employees have voiced their preferences of a work week that opts for 2 to 3 days of remote working.
"I think work from home has spoilt me a little," jokes Tara*, a junior account executive at an e-commerce platform. Having graduated with a major in Mass Communication during the pandemic, this is the 23-year-old's first job and introduction to the adult working ecosystem. And like many youths moving into the work force in these times, she can't imagine a reality where the typical 9-to-5 in a frigid office space as the ideal working environment anymore.
"I spent the first 6-months working from my dining table to my couch, and attended video meetings with my team members in shorts. It felt weird at first because, from a young age, I've been told to prepare for how ruthless adult working life can be. But now, this is all I know and it's been nice."
"Being able to manage my own time and taking breaks whenever I felt overwhelmed really helped me mentally. My company is slowly trying to cut back on remote working to at least 3 times a week, and I think that's a good choice to slowly ease us all back into working in an office again. But eventually, it'll be a full-time thing, and I'm gonna miss working from home. I didn't feel pressured to act like I had it all together."
Like Tara, many long-term and new employees have gotten a taste of working under your own terms, and have found solace in remote working.
Learning To Trust The System
While many employees have found themselves flourishing in remote working, employers have had to put forth trust and transparency in their teams. The benefit of working in an office means being able to physically keep track of your employees’ productivity and the ease of problem-solving as a team.
Remote working calls for employers to trust that their team can work together without actually being together, communicating as efficiently as they would in-office and being transparent with their work.
As we phase in and out of remote working, we’ve all but become accustomed to this way of life, both professionally and personally. Companies have found a way to make it work for them, and some have even seen the light, choosing to opt for continuous transformation in the workplace.
*Names have been changed to protect the identities of our contributors.