Dell Technologies has released new research revealing the readiness of Malaysia employees for long-term remote work. In the inaugural Remote Work Readiness (RWR) Index, it was found that more than eight in 10 (84%) employees in Malaysia (APJ: 81%) feel that they are prepared for long-term remote work but face ongoing productivity challenges.
Surveying over 7,000 working professionals[i] aged 18 years and above from the Asia Pacific & Japan (APJ) region (of which 1,030 were from Malaysia), the RWR Index captured data on employees’ readiness for long-term remote work and their views on the factors important for its success.
The study reveals that job security from the lack of interaction with employers (33%; APJ: 28%) and the stability of remote networks (33%; APJ: 27%), which includes Internet bandwidth, are the most significant concerns for employees should remote work arrangements continue long-term. Surveyed employees also feel that the blurring boundaries between work and personal lives (31%; APJ: 34%) is a cause for concern in a long-term remote work arrangement.
Less than half of those surveyed (43%; APJ: 46%) feel that their employers are fully supportive of long-term remote work. When it comes to technology resources, half (50%; APJ: 50%) feel that their employer is not doing everything they can to support effective remote working. Additionally, only43% (APJ: 40%) feel that their employer is doing everything they can to provide them with the HR support needed to successfully work remotely.
“The extraordinary events happening around the world meant that organisations have had to pivot to a remote work arrangement almost instantaneously, so it is not surprising that there are genuine concerns about long-term remote work,” said KT Ong, Country Manager – Malaysia, Dell Technologies. “The good news is that employees are prepared to work remotely for the long term and hope that their employers will provide greater support for the new reality where remote work practices will be commonplace.”
According to the research, employers have an ongoing task ahead to understand the challenges employees continue to face and to provide the necessary resources for successful long-term remote work.
In terms of technology resources, surveyed employees face the greatest challenge with unstable remote networks, which includes Internet bandwidth constraints, when the Movement Control Order (MCO) measures were implemented. They also encounter challenges in accessing internal company resources, such as intranet, company portal, customer relationship management tools, finance or accounting tools, etc. Employees also have had to contend with using personal productivity equipment and tools for work – this should be of particular concern for organisations given the IT security risks that it could pose. As a result, employees stated that they want employers to provide productivity equipment and tools (42%; APJ: 39%) and ensure that they have access to internal company resources (36%; APJ: 36%).
Malaysia employees’ top technology challenges:
- Stability of remote network, including Internet bandwidth (44%)
- Access to internal company resources (33%)
- Use of personal productivity equipment or tools for work (29%)
APJ employees’ top technology challenges:
- Stability of remote network, including Internet bandwidth (31%)
- Access to internal company resources (29%)
- Use of personal productivity equipment or tools for work (28%)
For HR support, both Malaysia and APJ surveyed employees cite the top challenge being the lack of in-person communication. Other significant challenges are gaps in areas such as team engagement initiatives, learning and development sessions, including training for virtual tools, and access to digital tools for performance review, leave filing, etc.
Malaysia employees’ top HR challenges:
- Lack of in-person communication (47%)
- Lack of or insufficient best practices training for remote working, including support for mental well-being (38%), and learning and development sessions, including training for virtual tools (38%)
- Lack of team engagement initiatives (37%) and access to digital tools for performance review, leave filing, etc. (37%)
APJ employees’ top HR challenges:
- Lack of in-person communication (41%)
- Lack of or insufficient learning and development sessions, including training for virtual tools (39%)
- Lack of or insufficient best practice training for remote working (38%), and outdated policies and guidelines for remote work (38%)
To successfully manage long-term remote work, more than half (51%; APJ: 47%) of the employees surveyed want best practices training for remote working, and learning and development sessions (51%; APJ: 48%). Access to digital tools for performance review, leave filing, etc. (43%; APJ: 40%) and team engagement initiatives (42%; APJ 46%) round up the top three HR resources and support employees need.
“The definition of work today has evolved. It is no longer anchored to a place or time, but instead is focused on outcomes,” added Ong. “Employers with the long-term health of the business in mind must be ready to help employees – the backbone of any company – realise both their professional and personal roles effectively regardless of where they will be working. This is work redefined.”
Other key findings across age segments and organisational sizes
- Remote work is not new to employees in Malaysia. As many as 70% of Malaysia employees (APJ: 71%) had worked remotely to some degree before MCO measures were implemented. 91% (APJ: 84%) of Gen Z employees (aged 18 to 23 years old) had worked remotely before MCO.
- In Malaysia, the most important factor for remote working is having a stable remote network (48%). This factor is particularly critical to those in large organisations with more than 1,000 employees, where 54% see this as the number one factor.
- In APJ, the most important factors are the stability of one’s remote network (38%) and fixed working hours and personal time (38%).
- In Malaysia, instability of remote networks, including Internet bandwidth limitations, is the top technology obstacle across all age groups and organisational sizes – 61% of employees aged 55 and above (Baby Boomers) see it as a key challenge, while more than half (52%) of employees in large organisations with more than 1,000 employees share the same view.
- In APJ, the stability of remote networks is also the top technology challenge that employees face (31%).
- In Malaysia, the lack of or insufficient team engagement initiatives is especially felt by surveyed employees aged 55 and above (Baby Boomers), with half of them (50%) viewing it as the top HR challenge.
About the study
The Remote Work Readiness Index is a study commissioned by Dell Technologies that captures data across seven markets in the Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) region – Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea – on the readiness of the workforce for long-term remote work. It focuses on understanding the factors important for remote working; employees’ willingness as well as concerns to work remotely for the long term, and the technology and human resource (HR)-related support they need to successfully work remotely. The study also assesses employers’ efforts to provide these resources and identifies opportunities for organisations considering a hybrid workplace or adopting remote work practices.
The full findings for Malaysia can be found here.
[i] Essential workers are excluded from the RWR Index as a pre-requisite of eligible respondents is that they must be able to conduct work remotely.
Related article: Navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic storm in Malaysia