PETALING JAYA: Working from home since the onset of Covid-19 in 2020, some Malaysians say they have no desire to return to the office.
FMT interviewed several people who said the flexible working arrangements set by their employers offered them more work-life balance, with time to spend with family, personal development and financial savings.
Fakhriy Malek, 28, a media research specialist working from home since the Covid-19 outbreak, said such arrangements remained his priority when job hunting, as they allowed him to take care of his mother in Melaka.
His current office in Kuala Lumpur only requires him to be physically present once a month.
“The advantage of working from home is that I can assist my mother and be there for her. I can fulfil my responsibilities as a child, manage household chores, and easily go to the clinic (for my mother’s medical needs) if needed.
“Working from home can provide workers both physical and mental health benefits as it eliminates the need to travel to work, which can be very tiring,” Fakhriy said, adding that he used to spend four hours commuting to work.
Sofeeyah Rabuan, 26, who is currently working at a multinational company, said working from home since the eve of the 2020 outbreak had aided her personal development.
She said that since 2020, she had gotten married, had a child, and was now managing her family – all while working, as her company’s arrangements gave her the flexibility to manage both her career and personal life.
“Without the arrangement, I don’t think it would have been possible for me to have a work-life balance. As long as the company continues this working arrangement, I don’t have much reason to pursue career opportunities elsewhere,” Sofeeyah said.
According to Randstad, one out of every two working Malaysians is willing to quit their current job for a healthier work-life balance, while 96% of Malaysian workers prefer flexible working arrangements and 37% are willing to take a pay cut to work remotely.
The Randstad 2022 Remote Work Report said 88% of Malaysian employees prefer to work remotely at least once a week, and that 93% of those between the ages of 18 and 24 prefer this working arrangement.
Data engineer Justin Loke Jianxin, 32, said working from home had helped him save on expenses such as transport costs and parking fees.
He said the travelling expenses saved every month had helped him financially, given the high cost of living in Kuala Lumpur.
Earlier this month, Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Shamsuddin Bardan said orders for employees to return to the office after years of remote work had led to problems in talent retention.
He said the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions had increased demand for on-site employment, causing a conflict between employee and employer desires, especially for youths who prefer flexible working arrangements.
To solve the job retention problem, Malaysian Trades Union Congress secretary-general Kamarul Baharin Mansor said employers must find ways to create jobs that might be able to fulfil the youths’ working demands.
Kamarul said the government needed to be creative in generating youths’ interest in entering the workforce through flexible working arrangements, and salary and career development.
He said there was a demand for such arrangements due to the high participation of youths in the flexible gig economy.