MEF: FWAs can benefit both employers and workers (Poll Inside)

MEF president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman. — AZLINA ABDULLAH/The Star

PETALING JAYA: While recognising the challenge for a blanket implementation towards flexible working arrangements (FWAs), doing so could bring various perks to both employees and employers, says the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF).

Its president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman however said it is crucial for employees to uphold their commitment to productivity, communication and accountability when offered FWAs.

“Employees should prioritise their work tasks and meet deadlines effectively regardless of their location.

“They should also proactively inform their managers and colleagues about their progress, challenges encountered, and their availability,” he told The Star.

He said remote workers must maintain a high level of accountability for their actions.

“This includes taking ownership of their work, seeking assistance when needed, and being receptive to feedback for continuous improvement.

“Employees must also respect company policies and guidelines related to FWAs, such as data security protocols, confidentiality agreements, and acceptable use of company resources,” he said.

Syed Hussain, however, said it is difficult to see FWAs across all industries.

He said the feasibility depends on factors such as the nature of work, customer demands, regulatory requirements and company culture.

“Some tasks inherently demand physical presence in the workplace due to operational needs or safety concerns, making flexible work arrangement impractical.

“Additionally, altering schedules could disrupt production or daily operations, particularly in team-based projects where coordination is crucial,” he said.

He added that restructuring work to accommodate flexible schedules may pose challenges, especially if tasks are interdependent or require close collaboration among team members.

“Moreover, the additional costs associated with setting up a work-from-home environment, coupled with uncertainties about employee performance outside the office, may further complicate the decision-making process,” he said.

Among the sectors suitable for FWAs, he said, are those related to technology and creativity, consulting and telecommunication.

The manufacturing, production, retail, hospitality and transportation industries however may find it challenging to do so, due to their line of work.

“MEF however supports the implementation of FWAs in suitable work environments where applicable, to improve the work-life balance of employees.

“Implementing FWAs also helps towards climate change by reducing the carbon footprint in line with the government’s initiative towards a net zero carbon emissions target by 2050,” he added.

FWAs may also lead to increased productivity as employees are motivated to complete tasks efficiently within the stipulated hours, Syed Hussain added.

“Work-environment in FWAs often sees employees experiencing enhanced work-life balance, resulting in higher job satisfaction and improved retention rates.

“This is further bolstered by increased operational efficiency, as organisations emphasise streamlining processes, prioritising tasks, and reducing unnecessary meetings or distractions.”

Syed Hussain said FWAs could lead to significant cost savings for organisations beyond just reduced utility expenses.

“One notable saving is towards office space. With employees spending one less day at the office weekly, there will be less demand for workspace, meeting rooms and other facilities.

“This reduction can translate to lower real estate costs for the organisation,” he said.

He pointed out how offering FWAs could be advantageous towards attracting top talent and improving employee retention.

“From a strategic perspective, implementing FWA positions the organisation as forward-thinking and adaptable to changing work trends,” he said.

On Wednesday, Human Resources Minister Steven Sim announced that workers in Malaysia can apply to their employers for FWA based on time, days and location of work according to Sections 60P and 60Q of the Employment Act 1955.

Sim said on X that such requests should be submitted to employers for feedback within 60 days and, if rejected, employers must provide reasons.

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