Remote working improves productivity

Employees around the world believe time saved from commuting and increased work-life balance contribute to their productivity

By LYDIA NATHAN / Pic source Employment Hero

THE adoption of working from home, or remote working, as a new norm is found to have drastically improved productivity, instead of being detrimental as many employers feared.

Employment Hero CEO and co-founder Ben Thompson (picture) said initially, employers saw a full implementation of remote working as a massive investment, particularly for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“Adding to this, they feared what remote working would mean for productivity and employee performance. In these areas, the pandemic has brought much-needed change,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.

Thompson added that before the Covid-19 pandemic, only a fraction of Malaysians had been working from home.

When cases increased by the day early last year, however, industry after industry had to come to a halt and employees had to work remotely in order to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

“Resoundingly, studies showed that employees around the world believed the time saved from commuting and increased work-life balance have contributed to their productivity,” Thompson said, adding that technology and mindset were the reasons that remote working was not popular before the pandemic. “Businesses have also increasingly understood that they can still meet their objectives and that the focus should instead be on cultivating leadership capabilities that can successfully manage a remote workforce,” Thompson said.

This, he added, has brought the focus back to what technology can do, as businesses now are focusing on developing systems and processes to support remote working.

“At the same time, technology providers have seen opportunities in the market and are making solutions more accessible and affordable to reach businesses that need them.

“For Employment Hero, Malaysia has always been one of the top priority markets, as 98.5% of business establishments are SMEs,” he said.

The Australian-based platform has helped more than 5,000 SMEs across Australia to address pain points like data collection, rostering, timesheets and payrolls using technology since its inception in 2015.

According to Thompson, the larger goal for Malaysia is to offer SMEs an opportunity to simplify processes, improve capabilities as employers and allow technology to handle complex day-to-day operations, so the focus can be on other aspects of employment like people, culture and the benefits.

“Our more immediate goal, however, is to help SMEs in Malaysia pivot and grow through the Covid- 19 crisis, just as numerous businesses around the world have through our solutions.

“Something as simple as a digital, paperless onboarding experience, for example, that enables employers to send offer letters and contracts to be signed electronically, is critical for businesses to continue hiring and operating during movement restrictions,” he said.

Thompson said some of the main challenges will include assimilating to the new norms of working long-term.

“One of the major ongoing challenges is the feeling of displacement among employees as they settle into the idea that nine-to-five office routines may no longer be the norm.

“Employees will require consistent support from their employers to remain productive during this time, be it setting up home offices, training leadership to support and manage employees remotely or implementing technology that effectively digitalises paper-based processes.

“Disengaged employees are a death knell for businesses, particularly SMEs, and businesses will need to step up employee engagement and benefits to retain employees and offer career growth,” Thompson elaborated.

Mental health has also been an ongoing noticeable challenge, as various reports state employees need support throughout the ongoing pandemic.

“Based on our report, 51% of Gen Z and millennial SME employees say they need mental health support, be it for feelings of isolation and anxiety or issues like over-working and a lack of purpose or connection to work,” he said.

Meanwhile, Thompson added that 2021 will continue to be a big year for the platform as it embraces opportunities to pivot and scale operations with technology.

The platform recently announced that it had raised RM141.6 million in a Series D funding round to accelerate growth in Australia, and double down on its international expansion strategy.

“We have never been in a better position to step up to the global playing field. Employment complexity is a universal problem. No one starts a business to be an employer and most are ill-equipped to manage employment successfully.

“We understand this and have developed a platform with the tools to help every employer and employee around the world, and make them as great as they can be,” he said.

Coinciding with its international expansion plans, the platform launched its Global Teams service, a professional employer organisation solution, designed to power the remote working revolution.

“Global Teams give SMEs everywhere the ability to find, onboard and manage remote talent legally and seamlessly, while also offering an in-built recruitment tool that allows SMEs to easily create and publish open positions to over 1,700 job boards worldwide,” Thompson noted.

Read our previous report here

Malaysians want flexibility in work after Covid-19, says Randstad