on a global level, 68% of the world’s workforce were in countries on mandatory or encouraged workplace closures in April 2020 due to COVID-19.4 About a third of private-sector employees in Malaysia had to WFH (worked from home) during the MCO.5 As the pandemic conditions continue, workplaces are widely encouraged to continue operations on a rotational or at least a partial WFH (worked from home) basis until the disease is under control. Patterns of work are expected to shift from this large-scale disruption. What are the implications for societies, and how should governments respond? Should WFH (worked from home) be further encouraged, or are there hidden drawbacks that we have not contemplated? What drives a positive WFH (worked from home) outcome in relation to employee well-being?
On the positive side, WFH(worked from home) provided opportunities for increased quality of life through better flexibility for persons with household responsibilities. WFH (worked from home) could unlock opportunities for inclusive practices, for persons with disabilities and for caregivers who can nonetheless participate in the workforce from home. Widespread WFH (worked from home) practices could also alleviate housing challenges in urban centers by reducing the demand for housing near employment centers. From the perspective of environmental sustainability, WFH (worked from home) also has the potential to drastically reduce commuting and consequent travel times, resulting in lower carbon emissions. At the same time, energy utilization in residential areas may increase due to WFH (worked from home) requiring higher data speeds and utility consumption—which may or may not be offset by decreased energy use in commercial areas.
At the same time, increased WFH (worked from home) could reinforce divisions, particularly for entry-level and low paid workers, and workers in the informal or gig economy. In particular, the informal economy offers little or no labor protections, while work roles in this area often have a lower ability to work remotely. One study estimates that less than 30% of Malaysia’s workforce is able to transition to WFH, while recent survey findings indicated that only one in four self-employed persons were able to WFH (worked from home) during the MCO.6 In the long-term, WFH (worked from home) may also accelerate the rise of the gig economy, which increases the risk to lower-income groups. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has identified informal economy workers as the most vulnerable to the closures due to the pandemic, with workers in this sector seeing an estimated 60% decline in income globally.7 Long-term WFH arrangements may benefit professional and higher-income activities, but exclude lower-income work activities, thereby exacerbating income inequality.
UNDP conducted two online surveys on WFH (worked from home) for employers and employees respectively. The employee survey focused on: (1) impact on employee income and expenses; (2) quality of life; (3) obstacles, needs, and productivity; and (4) change in perceptions toward WFH (worked from home). The employer survey focused on: (1) business continuity; (2) support provided to employees and productivity effects; and (3) plans to adopt WFH (worked from home) as a part of regular work and impacts on inclusivity. These surveys were distributed through trade associations, business chambers, and employee groups, alongside broad social media dissemination of the employee survey and targeted advertising of the employer survey. The survey was complemented with a scan of media and social media on perceptions and experiences of WFH in Malaysia to identify key themes and illustrate survey findings.
There were 1021 responses to the employee survey, representing employees in local enterprises, multinationals, and government service, as well as self-employed/gig workers. Just over half of employee responses belonged to the middle-income band (monthly incomes between RM3,000 and RM7,000) but there was also a significant representation of lower-income groups (23% reported incomes below RM3,000). There were 231 responses to the employer survey, mostly from the private sector. Over 2/3rds of employer respondents were domestic entities, while 29% were MNCs. Small and medium enterprises (200 or fewer employees) made up 79% of all employer responses. Further details of the survey method and respondent demographics are reported in Section 5.
The survey investigated the conditions of those who were able to WFH (worked from home). Therefore, the scope does not cover the MCO impact on those who were unable to do so. The findings can be read against the larger backdrop of economic disruption and job losses in the midst of the pandemic response. In Q1 2020, job losses increased by 42%, with nearly three-quarters of job losses coming from workers earning less than RM4,000. Job losses in Malaysia are expected to increase between 50-200% year-on-year for subsequent quarters.8 The economy is expected to start recovering as restrictions are lifted, but with a global recession caused by the pandemic, a return to regular levels of economic activity—and by extension, employment—is not expected within the next year.
We expect that businesses will be drawing lessons from the MCO WFH (worked from home) experiment, not only for disaster readiness but also for starting more sustained WFH policies in ordinary operations. The public sector would also be looking to anticipate the policy implications arising from changing work patterns, such as the Flexible Work Arrangements Tax Incentive announced in the National Economic Recovery Plan. With the majority of survey respondents providing a positive outlook on maintaining or starting WFH (worked from home) as a practice, it is likely that this unprecedented disruption will create a permanent shift in work patterns. It is hoped that the results of this survey may indicate directions for a more detailed study on the long-term implications of WFH as the new normal.
Methods and Demographics
Methodology Employee survey questions were disseminated through social media channels including WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter, from 5 May to 19 May, while employer survey questions were distributed through targeted channels e.g. trade associations and business chambers, LinkedIn, and direct email, from 5 May to 25 May. The following should be noted in interpreting the survey data:
➜ Where the survey responses have been filtered to a specific subset of respondents, this is mentioned in the analysis. References to results for the private sector or businesses would exclude government employee/employer respondents.
➜ Out of 901 respondents to the Employee survey question on changes to various types of weekly expenses, 342 responded on changes in childcare expenses, and 559 responded: “not relevant”. This response set was used to filter the subset of respondents who have childcare responsibilities at home.
➜ Respondents who did not reveal their gender (1%) are not taken into account in the gender-based analyses.
➜ Industries were grouped as follows, for both Employees and Employers
➤ Other services: includes administration & support services, human health and social activities, real estate activities, and any other service activities
➤ Professional activities: financial and insurance/takaful activities, professional, scientific, and technical activities
➤ Consumer-related services: accommodation, food, and beverage service activities, Activities of households as domestic employers, arts, entertainment and recreation, wholesale and retail trade
➤ Primary & Secondary Industry: agriculture, forestry and fishing, mining and quarrying, manufacturing
➤ Construction & Utilities: construction; electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply; water supply, sewage, waste management, and remediation
➤ All other sectors had no subgroups
There were 1,021 respondents to the employee survey, of which 38 respondents did not WFH and were excluded from the survey analysis. An important caveat is that the survey does not provide conclusions concerning the segment of the population who could not WFH. As the survey was targeted at persons who WFH, the survey responses are mostly representative of professional, administrative, and manufacturing services types of work.
In terms of age, respondents between ages 25 to 44 make up two-thirds of the total. Over half of the respondents reported incomes between RM3,000 and RM7,000, and 23% reported incomes under RM3,000. Associates (31%) and Managers (28%) formed the largest categories in levels of seniority, consistent with the distribution of age and salary levels observed. Slightly over two-thirds of the respondents were female.
The MCO was the first WFH experience for 79% of the respondents. In terms of employment type, the self-employed and gig workers were under-represented, comprising only 8% of respondents. Nevertheless, certain key findings are compared with recent MCO studies on this demographic as they are especially vulnerable to economic shocks.
There were 231 responses to the employer survey. Over two-thirds of respondents were domestic entities, while 29% were MNCs, in contrast to the employee survey where 35% of survey respondents were from the government sector, 34% from domestic entities, 23% from MNCs, and 8% were gig workers or self-employed. Skilled workers made up over 50% of the workforce for a majority of employer respondents.
Media and Social Media Scanning
Media sources and social media postings were scanned before and during the survey to capture WFH sentiments among the Malaysian population, with 197 observations made. Prominent themes included work-life balance, work and family/caregiving, productivity, employer support and monitoring, mental and physical health, and WFH as a future norm. Selected social media posts were used to illustrate employee and employer perspectives and experiences within these themes
The Kavian Scientific Research Association (KSRA) is a non-profit research organization to provide research / educational services in December 2013. The members of the community had formed a virtual group on the Viber social network. The core of the Kavian Scientific Association was formed with these members as founders. These individuals, led by Professor Siavosh Kaviani, decided to launch a scientific / research association with an emphasis on education.
KSRA research association, as a non-profit research firm, is committed to providing research services in the field of knowledge. The main beneficiaries of this association are public or private knowledge-based companies, students, researchers, researchers, professors, universities, and industrial and semi-industrial centers around the world.
Our main services Based on Education for all Spectrum people in the world. We want to make an integration between researches and educations. We believe education is the main right of Human beings. So our services should be concentrated on inclusive education.
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FULL Paper PDF file:How We Worked From Home
How We Worked From Home
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Professor Siavosh Kaviani was born in 1961 in Tehran. He had a professorship. He holds a Ph.D. in Software Engineering from the QL University of Software Development Methodology and an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Chelsea.