BANGKOK, 26 August 2020 – Some 20% of Thai corporations have permanently shifted to working from home to curb the spread of COVID-19, keep employees safe and save costs, PwC Thailand says. More Thai companies are likely to outsource or hire highly skilled contingent workers, including freelancers for non-permanent roles if the pandemic persists. This will create better flexibility in managing their workforce and cost-cutting strategies.
Dr Pirata Phakdeesattayaphong, a Consulting Partner for PwC Thailand, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies to embrace social distancing, prompting work-from-home policies to become the new normal.
“We estimate that 20% of Thai companies currently have a policy that allows their employees to work from home permanently to protect their employees from COVID-19 and also save themselves some operating costs, such as office rent, utility bills and other maintenance costs,” Dr Pirata said.
“In addition to this approach, they’re 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 2020 on emerging business models and key trends resulting from the pandemic, a majority of respondents (78%) expect remote working and collaboration to have a lasting impact after COVID-19. That was followed by shifts towards automation (76%) and low-density workplaces (61%).
The 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.
“If the COVID-19 situation persists with no end in sight, we expect more Thai companies to consider hiring contingent workers, freelancers and other outsourced and non-permanent staff who can be hired on a per-job or per-project basis.
“This so-called contingent workforce can provide flexibility and help companies to manage people costs in the long term during these highly unpredictable times,” Dr Pirata said.
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 concluded.
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