Malaysian Remote Workers Ready for the World

Malaysian Remote Workers Are Ready To Take On The World

Much has been said about the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences but probably the sole topic that has surfaced the most is how people began working away from the office. From the literal catchphrase of Work From Home (WFH) to Hybrid and now “Remote Working”, it is redefining work arrangements as much as it is changing real estate workspace configuration.

The latest trend to grab HR headlines, Remote Working has caught the attention of both the employers and employees because of its many facets of appeal ranging from cost efficiency, wider talent pool to the opportunity to work with desired international companies without relocation.

 As far as Remote Working of this season goes, it begins with the employers and employees residing in two totally different countries sharing the same objective – employment, and although the tenets of hiring cross borders seem like a steep climb, it can still be made to be fully compliant with local laws. This is what companies like Deel and Remote offer over in the US to their more than 1,400 clients globally. Closer to home, Remote Working is also offered by people like us at CXL to secure the services of great Malaysian talents for clients abroad.

Made in Malaysia

It is common knowledge in our industry that the Malaysian workforce is of a certain calibre and commands some level of respect from employers in the West. Our people are often praised too for their professionalism and quality in terms of proficiency, knowledge and experience.

When compared on the dollars and cents, Malaysian professionals are priced competitively but with a slight premium above peers from the more popular outsourcing countries in the region like Philippines, Vietnam and India. The general market consensus is that talents from India and Vietnam may be best for employers on a tighter budget but Malaysians and Philippinoes tend to stand out better for communication skills. This is often key to delivering projects with minimal disruptions and lifting the productivity levels to the optimum.

To take a page from CXL’s Remote Working, we have undertaken a special cross border appointment for a Hong Kong employer even before the pandemic began. Through us as an HR intermediary, we facilitated the hiring of a specific Malaysian talent that checked all the boxes for our client. This eliminated the traditional prerequisites of setting up an office or establishing a legal business entity here in Malaysia by our client.

Hiring through CXL also means we become the Employer of Records (EOR) and this effectively gives us the right to employ and secure the talent on behalf of our client. All expenses incurred on the employment such as payroll, benefits, taxes and stock options are then administered and billed accordingly to the client. This arrangement would also accelerate a client’s cross border expansion plans, protect its Intellectual Property (IP) in the process and allay all the Malaysian compliance matters like the accurate classification of employees, statutory contributions and tax matters to us at CXL.

This is a win-win-win for all parties because not only can our client fulfil their hiring through Remote Working or sometimes also known as “Distributed Teams”, the talent is also able to meet his/her ambition by working with an international employer. On our part as the conduit, it gives us immense pride to be able to mobilise our clients’ needs in the shortest time possible and still adheres to all of our clients’ onboarding processes.

Revival or Rebrand

But to be fair to the market and for the benefit of our readers out there, working remotely hasn’t been all that new in our industry because Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) and Contact Centres have been on this path for the longest time. It was only in the last 5 years or so when the tech, digital marketing and creative industries have come on board more significantly. This has also empowered corporate HR companies like us to bravely think-out-of-box and take a second look at all the jobs within our walls.

For example, the change from prioritising “8-hour” and “academic qualifications” to embracing “productivity”, “skill sets” and “job scopes” have had a far reaching impact that directly influenced how talents can be employed. It is for this very reason that we’re re-evaluating if a Recruiter can be engaged remotely since all they need is access to and communicate with the employers and candidates.

Working at home with family

But before I come to a close of this article, I might also add that while it is all promising on paper about working remotely, the truth is not everyone is cut out for it. From issues like space constraints to family habits and cultural differences, they each come with its own sets of parameters that can derail productivity. This was the reason behind the varied level of performance by individuals from the moment lockdown was imposed in 2020.

The story may however be entirely different when the right person in the right profession is hired and by “right” it means someone with a conducive work environment at home given the roomier layout and muted chances of disruptions. Such an appointment will likely be a boon from the get go.

As such, I foresee the tech, digital marketing, graphic design and UX/UI professions in the higher pay brackets to be the pioneering cohort to take the lead into remote working successfully in Malaysia. This is where we’re looking to add value to our clients, firstly by matchmaking these highly qualified and adaptable professionals to our clients in Singapore, before the same Made in Malaysia offer is extended further to the UK and US.

But should we really consider Remote Working as a serious hiring method? A survey conducted with 1,004 full time employees in the US out of which 505 were working remotely revealed that remote workers are generally more productive. The same article in businessnewsdaily.com also shared that 37% of remote employees as surveyed by Global Workplace Analytics would take a 10% pay cut to continue working from home.

Although the story, statistics and sample size may be quite different from Malaysia, such reports are indicative enough to suggest Remote Working is now on a rising trend and may have a longer runway to establish itself as part of how the employer-employee relationship will be redefined in the not too distant future and beyond.

About Fariz

Fariz Abdullah is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CXL Group. The organisation offers HR solutions which include Contingent Workforce, Executive Search and Payroll & HR Outsourcing. Under his purview, Fariz has transformed CXL Group into an HR organisation that believes in the importance of advancing through technology but with a deep focus on the human touch in an increasingly digital era.

How Far Has Tech Gone In HR & Payroll

How Far Has Tech Gone In HR And Payroll

Strategically, HR is an all encompassing infantry unit catering to every productivity goal of the company. From sourcing, selecting, negotiating, hiring, training, retaining and paying the onboarded talent, the job of HR is in fact as vital as the year-end’s profitability. But HR tech hasn’t always been in the limelight and it is why the industry only started making some headway around about the 1990’s.

But as far as tech adoption goes, the HR load is light if it was a 2 to 5-men enterprise but when a corporation employs 30, 50, 100, 500 and employees numbered into the thousands, it calls for a comprehensive solution to store and process staff records as well as generating everything from a payslip to statutory reports.

Further, companies that opt to process HR matters in-house should also be mindful if the hired HR team is well versed enough to execute according to the domestic legislations. Falling short in this area may attract unwanted consequences such as fines from the government departments. As such, practising HR and adopting HR tech to supplement the tasks at hand requires depth and experience to do the job well.

Evolution of HR Tech

A quick look at how far technology has come to support the HR practice will inform us that perhaps now is the time to really look at what technology can offer to our workplace.

  • 1979 – the launch of SAP R/2, integrating HR functionality together in the same ERP database with production planning, materials management and financials; not a standalone module.
  • 1987 – establishment of Peoplesoft, the first HR Management System (HRMS) in the world.
  • Early 1990s – The HRMS market emerging with ERP vendors like Oracle and JD Edwards introducing HR ERPs covering all functions like core HR, recruiting, learning, US payroll, and reporting. Smaller ERP vendors followed suit globally with customisation for specific markets.
  • 1994 – Monster launched the first-ever online recruitment website.
  • Rest of 1990s – moving from client-server technology to the web and opened up HRMS to users outside of HR (or HRMS employee self-service) where HR systems became more specialised eg. recruitment-only.
  • 2000 – 15% of organisations have adopted employee self-service HR technology with early adopters like Pfizer, Dell and Hewlett-Packard.
  • 2003 – LinkedIn is founded, the first professional social media site.
  • 2005 – 50% of organisations have adopted employee self-service HR technology.
  • 2015 – 90% of organisations have adopted employee self-service HR technology.
  • 2018 – 85% of job applications were made via job boards.
  • 2019 – 92% of HR leaders believe the future of providing excellent employee service has to include chatbots.

Source: hrmsworld.com, ubisend.com, www.statista.com

With HR Tech going through rapid adoption especially in the last decade, it beckons for those in the practice to sit up and listen because the time is now ripe. By that it means Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has just entered the fray and if one is not paying attention to this development, competitors may surge ahead leaving conventional teams myopic with merely processing macros in a spreadsheet like it was 1999.

This is inline with a Forbes article published in September this year which mentioned that “as HR technology becomes increasingly integrated, I predict companies will look for more automation capabilities, and those who succeed in creating technology for this sector will find ways to create efficiencies for HR professionals through automating workloads while also improving the employee experience.”

Robotic Process Automation (RPA), HR's Turbo Boost

Automation or RPA is in fact the new kid on the HR-block. What it can do while the HR Manager is cosying up to dinner and the World Cup fever after hours will quite literally blow one’s mind away.

Take for example payroll processing, RPA, when programmed to its intended scope, will perform like the payroll processing department in the office without the need of any human supervision and much less human labour.

From matching names, tallying salaries, calculating claims, emailing designated “managers” to verify pay raises, reading responded emails and finally executing the “pay” command, all these can be done with zero human intervention.

Although this may sound far-fetched just 20 years ago, it is not entirely so in 2022 because even instant messengers of the chatbots have made their presence felt in this era. Case in point, the implementation of an AI-driven chatbot in a particular company has reduced inbound HR enquiry emails by 43% from about 100 emails per week, offloading the unproductive menial work of answering leave balance, procedure to submit claims etc from the HR officers (Director, VP, Managers etc) that serves 100,000 employees across 75 countries (source: ubisend.com). 

Not to be mistaken, by removing the “human” element from the HR process is in no way negating the HR professionals from their responsibilities but instead, liberating and empowering them to be even more autonomous and strategic in carrying out HR practices.

With more time in hand, HR practitioners can focus on formulating dynamic strategies so corporate goals like annual targets and quarterly performance can all be levelled up. To that end and according to achievers.com, “Recognition, Health & Wellness, Learning and Development – these are a few of the emerging areas of HR technology that have become crucial to engaging and retaining top talent”.  When these are technologically-enabled, it will extend yet another dimension to the equation – data.

HR's Big Data In The Making

HR's Big Data In The Making

Employers armed with such data possess a high level of knowledge about the performance of the company because the metrics provided from here will go on to prompt about the next steps eg. how to re-engage before a top performer exits for another opportunity. Retention hence becomes an area that was once run by interaction and intuition but now substantiated through data analytics. The same Forbes article mentioned earlier also concurs to such an all encompassing expansion of the HR Tech industry where it suggests the next phase of this space would require “analytics, AI, integration with a suite of HRIS and HRM solutions and an employee-first mindset—the keys to truly complete workforce management.”

Where will HR Tech go from here? According to peoplemattersglobal.com, “the best platforms are about modernising the employee experience. Even small companies use HR software now to up their employee experience strategy, and price is no deterrent (given the heavy competition in the market). HR software will easily be a $43 billion industry by 2026.”

If you haven’t already, now is the time for your HR department to up their game and play ball!