8 key factors towards effective flexible work arrangements


The pandemic has highlighted some fundamental issues about remote working, flexible working arrangements and office configurations. Photo: Mikey Harris/Unsplash

The pandemic has no doubt put the spotlight on how working from home has not just been adopted globally out of necessity, but also changed the way we think about conventional work settings.

According to a recent report by Talent Corporation Malaysia (TalentCorp) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Malaysia, employers who embraced Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) saw increased productivity and their employees experienced better quality of life.

Released Aug 3, the report, entitled Making Flexible Work, Work: Towards Better and More Inclusive Work-Life Practices, identified eight key factors that contribute towards a success FWA.

The publication is a timely assessment of FWAs that result in a healthy and engaged workforce, despite disruptions caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic and the various movement control orders in the country implemented since March last year, which resulted in more Malaysians working from home.

It compiles critical findings and highlights key lessons derived from the Life at Work and Work-From-Home (WFH) surveys conducted by both organisations to support the successful implementation of Work-Life Practices (WLPs) and FWAs in Malaysia.The Making Flexible Work, Work: Towards Better and More Inclusive Work-Life Practices joint publication by TalentCorp and UNDP.The Making Flexible Work, Work: Towards Better and More Inclusive Work-Life Practices joint publication by TalentCorp and UNDP.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan said that the report serves as a roadmap to how Malaysian employers can and must take the lead in preparing their workforce for the future of work.

“TalentCorp’s efforts in this area is in line with the Ministry’s agenda to develop a competent, productive, responsive and resilient national human capital base,” he said in a press release.

After an initial period of uncertainty, many employers and employees are now able to make WFH work, with many now adopting a WFH Hybrid Model where employees work from home on a rotational basis.

Thomas Mathew, group chief executive officer of TalentCorp, said, “As the Human Resources Ministry’s agency tasked to help steer the country’s talent strategy, we are committed to advocating the wider adoption of WLPs in Malaysia.

“We continue to amplify our collaborations with the public and private sectors to support the government in uplifting the wellbeing of Malaysians via diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Niloy Banerjee, resident representative, UNDP Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, added that the pandemic has highlighted some fundamental issues about remote working, flexible working arrangements, office configurations and cost calculations associated with workspace infrastructure.Human Resources Minister Saravanan said the Making Flexible Work, Work: Towards Better and More Inclusive Work-Life Practices report serves as a roadmap to how Malaysian employers can and must take the lead in preparing their workforce for the future of work. Photo: TalentCorpHuman Resources Minister Saravanan said the Making Flexible Work, Work: Towards Better and More Inclusive Work-Life Practices report serves as a roadmap to how Malaysian employers can and must take the lead in preparing their workforce for the future of work. Photo: TalentCorp

“The comfortable equivalence of workplace equals workspace no longer holds, or at the very least, is certainly under interrogation,” said Banerjee.

“Ironically, a virus that nearly brought all work to a grinding halt, has also offered up that moment in time to reflect and effect a step-change in the evolution of working arrangements.

“We welcome this important conversation and this is our initial contribution to that relevant - and timely - conversation that the Government of Malaysia, the private sector and the wider rakyat are undertaking,” he said.

Here are the eight key lessons on FWAs/WFH arrangements:

For Employers

1. Shift to trust-based working time/results-oriented arrangement.

2. Ensure top-down buy-in and support for FWAs at all levels.

3. Ensure inclusivity in FWAs design and implementation; prioritise employees with clear needs for FWAs (for example, working mothers).

4.Ensure clear and well thought-out policies that include providing technical support, material support, guidelines and expectations.

For Employees

5. Take initiative to reciprocate with fair share of ownership; demonstrate commitment and productivity.

6. Have accountability - focus on outputs and outcomes, and manage work time and priorities.

7. Ensure constant communication and constructive dialogue with supervisors and co-workers to find workable solutions. Employees with children at home need to apply ground rules to reduce distractions.

8. Be familiar with employer policies on FWAs. This will help set limits to maintain boundaries between work and non-work spheres.

The joint publication is one of TalentCorp’s efforts to optimise Malaysian talent via the diversity and inclusion agenda by providing end-to-end advisory services to support companies which adopt WLPs.

Through policies and measures to ensure that Malaysia’s workforce benefits from WLPs, TalentCorp aims to see greater recognition of innovative workplace practices as an indispensable tool to drive productivity, boost organisational performance and support the needs and demands of tomorrow’s workforce.

Download the report here, or visit the TalentCorp website or UNDP Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam or follow them on Facebook.

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