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.
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.
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.