By The Nation
Dr Pirata Phakdeesattayaphong, consulting partner for PwC Thailand, said the pandemic has forced companies to embrace social distancing, prompting work-from-home policies to become the new normal.
“We estimate that 20 per cent of Thai companies currently have a policy that allows their employees to work from home permanently to not just protect them from Covid-19, but to also save themselves some operating costs such as rent, utility bills and other maintenance costs,” she said.
More Thai firms are also expected to outsource or hire highly skilled contingent workers, including freelancers for non-permanent roles, if the pandemic persists. This will give them better flexibility in managing their workforce and cost-cutting strategies.
“They’re also using a hybrid work model where staff have the option of working from home or coming to the office for meetings or workshops. Working from home for extended periods of time can be stressful, causing employees to struggle to find their work-life balance. Our data shows that most people prefer working from home at least two days a week,” she said.
According to PwC’s CEO Panel Survey, which canvassed some 699 CEOs in 67 countries between June and July on emerging business models and key trends resulting from the pandemic, a majority of the respondents (78 per cent) expect remote working and collaboration to have a lasting impact after Covid-19. That was followed by shifts towards automation (76 per cent) and low-density workplaces (61 per cent).
Challenges of working remotely
Remote work is not without its challenges. The quality of work and overall productivity are among key issues many business leaders are facing when assessing work-from-home policies.
Dr Pirata suggested it’s essential that organisations provide best practices for remote working and use the right tools to measure staff performance. This includes adopting digital solutions to help managers track work progress, helping team members solve problems quickly and prioritising automation for certain types of work.
Motivating and encouraging employees who work remotely is also a top priority for leaders. Human resources functions need to adjust the employee experience, including providing opportunities for employees to meet, connect and build communities so they are more engaged. Companies also need to have a clear policy on time-out/vacation for employees and protocols for break times during the day.
Even as the pandemic changes the daily work life of employees in one way or another, it’s critical for them to develop new skills while adapting to new situations. Flexibility and adaptability will be important skills to increase efficiency and allow them to stay agile in a world full of rapid and unprecedented changes, she added.