KUALA LUMPUR: Global workplace provider Regus conducted a research recently which showed that about half the world’s workforce now enjoys flexible working arrangements at 48%, with Malaysia ahead of the curve at 53%.
The 2013 Regus Global Economic Indicator reveals that professionals who are chained to the office desk will soon be the minority.
Regus’s research, canvassing over 26,000 business managers across 90 countries, found that 48% now work remotely for at least half their working week. In Malaysia, just over half of executives work flexibly for at least half the week (53%).
Some chief executives may worry about motivating and managing staff at a distance. But in the Regus survey, 63% of Malaysian respondents (55% globally) said they believed effective management of remote workers was perfectly achievable, and a significant portion of businesses are bringing increasing rigour to managing their remote staff.
“Flexible working is a winner for all concerned when the management team takes the lead,” said Regus CEO Mark Dixon.
“The business people we speak with tell us that trust and freedom play a key role in remote management and, once these are in place, the benefits are clear for all to see: greater productivity, improved staff retention and lower operating costs.”
Regus’ survey shows that 61% of companies in Malaysia (higher than the 37% global figure) use specific efficiency-monitoring reporting systems, while 65% of remote managers use video calls to communicate with their teams (43% globally).
US health insurer Aetna, a thought leader in the field, has added training courses to the mix so remote workers and their managers can be brought up to speed on effective flexible working methods. Of Aetna's 35,000 employees, 14,500 do not have a desk.
The flexible work experience can have a particular value for younger workers. Around 39% of respondents in Malaysia believe that junior employees become more responsible through remote working.
In addition, there is a perception that flexible working is shaping a new kind of interaction between line managers and their team members. Also, 46% of respondents think that remote management helps maintain a more professional relationship.
“Working from home is convenient and family-friendly. But even with a near-perfect home working set-up, I still want other locations to work from,” said John Henderson, Regus Regional Director for APAC.
“The impact of portable technology and widespread connectivity hasn't been home working, it has been flexibility. Multi-location working is becoming the norm.”