Employees wax lyrical about remote work

PETALING JAYA: Graphic designer Jordan Lau, 31, said working remotely since 2020 has helped him cut his commuting, resulting in more productive hours at work.

“I previously used public transport when heading to my office in Kuala Lumpur, but through remote working, I can minimise time spent on the train, as well as related expenses.

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“This gives me some extra hours of sleep, making me feel much fresher and enhancing my productivity,” he said, adding that he also has more free time to perform chores and to spend on his hobbies now.

Content writer Jamilah Hanif, 30, from Kuala Lumpur, said flexible working arrangements allows her to have her two-year-old with her during what is an important growth period.

“My company’s flexi working system is truly commendable. I only have to go into the office once a week while the rest of the days I work from home (WFH).

“Since I’m a mother to a toddler, I’m given more leeway, so I don’t have to spend money on a babysitter or daycare.

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“On days that I WFH, I don’t have to clock in or clock out officially, as there is trust between myself and my superiors. What is important is to get the job done,” she said.

Jamilah added that such flexibility is attractive not only for mothers, but also those who are caring for ailing parents or other family members.

With new technologies causing a paradigm shift and bosses recognising the importance of retaining talents, flexible working methods are likely to be here for the long run, she said.

A customer service specialist who wished to be known only as Carol, said working remotely allows her to spend more time with her family in Sabah.

“My office is in Kuala Lumpur, but my company has a unique remote working system that requires us to come in physically for only a week every two months.

“This allows me to work from my home in Sabah where I can spend more time with my family and cats,” she said.

But WFH does came with challenges, such as a lack of proper Internet connectivity, she said.

“Physical working sessions with colleagues provides a sense of support and allows us to build a camaraderie.

“Working remotely, on the other hand, provides the opportunity to be independent while giving us a sense that we are trusted to do the best,” she added.

In George Town, interior architect Jonathan Peh, 48, had to close his design studio during the Covid-19-triggered movement control order in 2020 as his business was not considered an essential service.

He then invested in IT – getting stylus pads and large computer monitors – to allow his eight team members to meet online and share design ideas.

“It is more difficult. When we are physically together and someone gets an idea, you just grab a piece of paper and sketch.

“But online, it is less spontaneous. Still, we got used to it,” he said.

Peh said he has still not opened a new design studio, and if he does so later, it would be a smaller one with a “hot desk” for any team member to go in and work if necessary.

“In my 20 years as an interior architect, I only remember four clients visiting us, so I don’t see the sense in having a physical studio anymore,” he said.

Arafat Esah, 33, a corporate communications executive in a large multinational corporation in Penang, said his company now allows knowledge workers to WFH two days a week, and they can freely choose which days they want to do so.

“I chose Wednesdays and Fridays because Wednesday is the middle of the week and I can walk to Friday prayers more easily when I work from home,” he said.

Arafat said his friends in a few other multinationals on the island are working 100% from home.

“Those who don’t need to use labs, robots or high-tech equipment need no longer go into office at all,” he said.

While Arafat feels that his “creative juices” flow more easily when working from home, of late he has begun to feel a little uncomfortable because the days are getting warmer in Penang – and “no way will I turn on the home air-conditioning because my electricity bill will shoot up!” he said.

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