Malaysia has called on other ASEAN governments to consider giving more incentives, for expenses incurred by employers in implementing flexible employment arrangements.
The idea to encourage more companies to adopt flexible employment arrangements is because it is seen as an important new element in human resource strategy for companies.
The need for more flexibility at work is evident, as work-life balance becomes a rising concern of the workforce, especially among the younger generation.
Our government has suggested that employers look at various forms of flexible employment arrangements, including job sharing among employees, working from home, part time work system, compressed work house and flexi time.
This is not something new, as the UK government had in 2003 introduced flexible working hours, aimed at allowing employees to choose their hours to suit their needs.
The plan was originally extended to those caring for infants, disabled children, elderly parents or relatives living under their roof, but it was later extended to all employees.
Any employee has the right to ask for flexible hours and their employers must acknowledge their requests. Of course employers can always reject the requests, but the law in the UK says the decision must be properly explained.
I am one of many Malaysians who would truly welcome such a practice being implemented in this country.
Many young couples with newborns, and others who are caring for their elderly parents, struggle daily to balance family life with irregular hours, unconducive work environment, and bulging workloads.
Tougher still when one has to care for a disabled or sick child or parent.
But I believe flexible employment can be implemented in Malaysia, taking into account the following three considerations: 1. Technology allows for flexibility
In more and more jobs today, we no longer have to be physically present at the office. An assignment or task can be done from home or even a coffee shop these days. Tasks are completed and projects be updated with e-mails.
Of course, questions can arise on how do we get work done or even monitor work progress? The answer is technology. Bosses can have an eye on projects and what the employees are working on with a simple phone call, Skype or Cloud-based services. 2. Set the rules
This is important. Employees need to identify what is expected of them and the time frame they are expected to finish a task or assignment.
Take Potato, for example, the company which was set up in 2010 which builds web applications for companies such as Google, 10 Downing Street and the White House.
Potato chief executive Jason Cartwright told The Telegraph
in an interview that when the right people are employed, there is no need to worry about exploitation of freedom, as the employees set their own standards based on the company’s expectation.
By spelling out the rules, employees will be able to manage time and work progress as expected out of them. 3. Get the best out of people
Let’s face it, all of us are different. Some are morning people, some work well independently, some prefer to work late into the night. But with the current 9 to 5, employees have no choice but to come in to work during those hours. Some companies do offer WFH (work from home) choices but since it is not a policy, many are unsure on how to approach employers.
By engaging in flexible working models, an employee is no longer bound to work within the usual hours as long as the company is happy with the end results. This model is especially suitable for those in the creative industry.
Improving our work environment is crucial as the demands of a working adult is no longer the same especially with our aging population. It is time we rethink on how to address the situation and pick a thing or two from the UK on their model.