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Market Insights SEEK Employment trends Future of the Workplace: 7 Ways Companies Can Adapt to the New Normal
Future of the Workplace: 7 Ways Companies Can Adapt to the New Normal

Future of the Workplace: 7 Ways Companies Can Adapt to the New Normal

When the pandemic hit Malaysia, it became evident that change is not only constant but also necessary to continue in work and life. Industries and workers have adapted and remain resilient. But, the future of the workplace will require new normal workplace guidelines and good working environment examples to thrive in the post-pandemic world.

The new normal is not only about complete, unexpected transformations. These trends may have been in the works but were accelerated by the pandemic or existing but refashioned to be more relevant.

How to Prepare for the Future of the Workplace

Here are things your organisation should work on to stay on top of every projection on what the future of the workplace will be.

1. Follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and guidelines Malaysia entered the Endemic Phase in April 2022. By then, most of the restrictions were lifted. But, the government also issued Standard Operation Procedures (SOP), mandatory safety measures punishable by fines or imprisonment and guidelines for compliance. 

While progress is happening, the SOPs are still in place because COVID-19 infections are still considered much bigger existing threats. Mandatory health and safety protocols can help manage the spread of infections and safeguard the continuity of economic activities.

Organisations must constantly stay updated and adhere to the new safety and health policies. You also have the right to implement health and safety policies required to the nature of the business and specific employee roles. So long as you assess the benefits and risks of these rules, they are reasonable, thoroughly explained to the individuals, and do not breach the employment contract or any employee rights.

Read below some questions and answers to clarify employers’ responsibilities to their workers in the new normal, as stated in the SOPs and guidelines:

What should you do to keep your workplace safe?
  1. Encourage wearing of face mask at all times in indoor settings except in:

    • Employees’ workspaces

    • When eating or drinking

    • There are special needs and medical issues such as breathing problems (individuals are required to present a medical certificate for these conditions)

  2. Observe a physical distance of at least 1 metre for places and situations where it is possible

  3. Implement regular cleaning and disinfection process for public areas and frequently touched surfaces and equipment

  4. Ensure good ventilation and ventilation system in the workplace.

How do you manage suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases on the premise?
  1. Follow the National COVID-19 Testing Strategy (NTS) Guidelines and adhere to the Quarantine Guidelines.

  2. Cover the cost of testing for employees who are confirmed symptomatic while in the work or activity premises

  3. Handle the cost of isolation for confirmed cases and close contacts.

  4. Monitor employees who suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 through digital home surveillance order (HSO) as proof of quarantine compliance.

  5. Allow entry for employees and individuals who are “low risks”, as verified on MySejahtera.

  6. Confirmed cases or employees with “high risk” status and under HSO may be restricted entry and advised to take a leave from work. However, if there are no Quarantine or Observation orders from authorised medical personnel, they should be allowed to go to work.

Should you implement COVID-19 leaves?
  1. Paid sick leaves can cover employees’ absences due to COVID-19 quarantine, hospitalisation, and other health-related issues. But employers cannot require individuals to use their paid sick leaves.

  2. You must provide paid medical leave or hospitalisation entitlement to employees who have confirmed COVID-19 symptoms.

  3. You may provide additional paid sick leave exceeding the sick leave entitlement.

  4. You are encouraged to provide additional pay to employees instructed to quarantine exceeding their sick leave or hospitalisation entitlement.

  5. You may not force employees to use annual leave to cover absences during the quarantine period.

Should you require vaccination? How do you check the vaccination status of your employees?
  1. Vaccination is not mandatory, but you may include it as a prerequisite in pre-employment health screening for new hires.

  2. Remember that vaccination is just one of the ways to fight severe COVID-19 infections.

  3. Always consider the nature of the job in requiring vaccination. If the job calls for close interactions, ensure you verify the employee's vaccination status through vaccination cards or certificates on MySejahtera.

  4. If employees have jobs requiring vaccination but are ineligible to get vaccinated, ask them to submit a certified medical report from an authorised medical professional.

  5. Encourage and explain the benefits of vaccination. You may also offer incentives.

  6. If employees refuse to be vaccinated, inquire and listen to their reasons first. 

  7. You have the liberty to assign roles that do not require vaccination, such as jobs with virtual interactions or work-from-home assignments. Ensure there is mutual agreement from both parties in any steps you take.

Should all employers allow work-hour flexibility? How do you ensure your employees are still productive even when working from home?
  1. You are encouraged to implement flexible work arrangements and break schedules to avoid crowded work areas.

  2. You can use the digital home surveillance order (HSO) to monitor employees who are advised to quarantine but can still work from home.

  3. Established a hybrid and remote working policy. Specify the following:

    • Schedule of onsite and remote working

    • Total working hours for work from home

    • Required tools and software

    • Clear expectations and targets

    • Schedule for check-ins and updates

    • Required progress reports

2. Prioritise health and wellness Health has always mattered, but the pandemic has put it at the forefront of people’s attention. Revisit your workplace health and wellness programs and resources. Add more options that will tap into the physical and mental well-being of your employees. Compliance is one, but consistency in promoting them is another.

Give access to workout and fitness sessions, open a virtual office space to collaborate on health goals, and provide essential information on healthy eating and taking vitamins to boost their immune system. Offer better support in maintaining work-life balance with flexible working hours, taking regular breaks, and managing workloads.

3. Reassess your purpose and values Personal and work challenges and continuous adjustments may have obscured some vital aspects of your business. As you embrace the new normal, this is the time to re-examine your purpose to your stakeholders. Remember your vision and values for the past years and determine if and how they should change. Which practices can you continue, and what new and hybrid ways should you adopt? 

Whatever goals you have, consistently check the need to rewrite your communication and shift how you operate. For example, environmental sustainability is crucial if your business is about improving and nourishing lives. You may need to adopt an eco-friendlier means of making your products or providing services. Choose what matters in the present for a better future of the workplace.  

4. Provide clear guidelines for different work arrangements Onsite work policies during pre-pandemic that are still applicable can be integrated with your remote or hybrid work. But you must be more flexible in accommodating different work situations. Set boundaries to ensure employees, wherever they work, are productive or will not abuse any privileges.

For example, set a regular schedule for in-person or videoconferencing meetings to ensure efficient use of time. Implement a work tracking process. You may use task management or time tracking software. You may also require them to send reports at the end of the day. Remember, what matters in monitoring your employees’ productivity is that they accomplish what needs to be done on time and at the best quality. 

5. Keep people connected and included Build a system that accommodates different sets of interactions. This strategy will make bridging the gap between onsite and remote working employees easier. Enhance collaboration between team members, so they can work well virtually and in person. Arrange activities or set time within meetings to let employees see and know each other, understands the levels of diversity within your organisation, and make every individual feel included wherever they work. 

6. Enhance organisational agility The pandemic experience shows the need to create a more efficient order of information dissemination, implementation, and decision-making. While more traditional, such as the top-down approach, may work on bigger matters, the new normal may demand more agility in the workplace. 

An agile organisation focuses on empowering employees to work in ways and in environments where they can stay productive and give the best results. Building teams with the right people to implement and decide on day-to-day events is one of the good working environment examples of an agile workplace. Accountability, upskilling and reskilling employees and effective performance and results-based monitoring can be solutions to ensure this approach will keep things organised. Improving your organisation’s agility can strengthen the trust between your employees and their resilience in work as they are more involved with the different sides of the business.

7. Invest in automation and digital transformation Start now if you have not. Automating and digitalisation may benefit certain aspects of your business. Maximising machines for hazardous jobs can make employees safer. Production quality and quantity can increase without overworking your employees.

Going digital is a must in managing remote and hybrid workforces. Digital tools provide a platform for employees to work efficiently and connect instantly. Virtual communication can reduce costs in hiring and daily operations. Collaborative tools can assist in sharing innovative ideas, solving complex issues, and working and communicating effectively. You can also expand your offerings with a digital version of your products.

There will always be something new in the future of the workplace. Be forward-thinking and prepared for the next normal. Still, no matter the changes, work as we know it before the pandemic still has principles and practices that remain relevant today. Some innovations are essential for success but have to be intentional.

Create your account now and search for talents that can help your business be new normal-ready. Visit Employer Insights for tips and trends on attracting the right jobseekers.

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