While COVID-19 outbreak is wreaking havoc globally, massive changes are afoot in the way we live, work and play.
At the time of writing, the COVID-19 pandemic is spurring governments around the world to enforce different levels of counter measures not seen since the Second World War to better safeguard their national health and economy.
Malaysia's current Movement Control Order (MCO) since 18 March 2020 was preceded by a rising tide of event cancellations and global travel bans. Businesses of all sizes - and indeed many of us - are dialling up our use of digital tools. Meetings - both business and social - are now virtualised.
Overnight, companies have dropped resistance to remote working and indeed are beginning to realise finally that productivity gains and cost savings outweigh concerns about employee engagement. In fact, employee engagement can continue even during a lockdown!
In addition, working from home - #WFH - is refreshing our appreciation of the real values in life.
Could Remote Working be the New Normal?
A scan of surveys and media reports in the last couple of years was already showing deep interest in remote working.
According to Buffer's annual report The State of Remote Work (2019), showed 99% of respondents said they would like to work remotely for at least in some time throughout their careers.
"This is a notable stat to have discovered; while remote work is sometimes portrayed as a trend, these results seem to infer that this current way of working is here to stay. Out of all the data we collected, no response was as powerful as this one," suggested the report.
The 2020 edition of the report confirms that remote workers "almost unanimously want to continue to work remotely (at least for some of the time) for the rest of their careers."
In addition, 97 percent of the respondents would recommend remote work to others. However, the current enforcement of remote working due to the pandemic is facing some resistance: most are unused to the new domestic pressures of being indoors and coping with demands of their children and so forth.
The Future of Work
TM ONE's recently put out a call to see how people were finding WFH on LinkedIn and Twitter. The LinkedIn poll drew an immediate flood of comments, many of which favour WFH and even WFA (work from anywhere). However, the same straw poll on Twitter instead shows an almost 50-50 split between favouring WFH and the workplace. Overall, we found that 56% still prefers being at the workplace, 37% thinks WFH is great for every day, while 7% don’t think WFH is for them.
These findings and feedbacks suggest the new normal in Malaysia would involve reduced days in workplaces or shift of supervisors and employers’ mindset towards WFA.
Moving forward, the COVID-19 crisis is going to leave many aspects of our lives changed.
"The new reality is that connectivity has become an essential resource. Whether for news, shared experiences, or maintaining business – connectivity joins the list of shelter, food and clothing for most of us," commented TM ONE's Executive Vice-President & Chief Executive Officer, Ahmad Taufek Omar.
"Indeed, the new reality of WFH could perhaps become the new normal for many of us - even after we have beaten this COVID-19 pandemic. Much of our daily lives, how we work and play could well be permanently changed - and we may find a much healthier balance in the new era," he added.
For now, the mission for most of us is to stay at home. Malaysia is waking up to the reality of why becoming a truly digital nation is the next big step ahead in the journey. Stay safe, everyone - and stay productive!