UOB Malaysia: Mental health at the forefront post-COVID-19 pandemic

UOB MALAYSIA announced that it is giving the majority of its almost 5,000-strong workforce the choice to work remotely up to two days a week once COVID-19 restrictions are fully lifted. 

Underlying the permanent change is the Bank’s aspiration to ensure colleagues attain the right balance between professional fulfilment and mental well-being. 

Two days of remote working a week has been found to be the most advantageous for employees to maintain a sense of connection with colleagues and the company and to achieve optimal performance.

The Bank’s announcement follows a review of work patterns, workspaces and workforce technology tools during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Close to 60% of Bank roles were assessed to be suited to working remotely, whether from home or a location other than the employee’s assigned workplace. 

UOB Malaysia’s new Remote Work options are in line with broader community sentiment where 90% of people across Malaysia said they expected some form of flexible work arrangement to become more common in a post-pandemic world.

According to UOB Malaysia executive director and country head of human resources Lai Tak Ming, the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way people work in the future and that the concept of what constitutes a ‘workplace’ has undergone a fundamental rethink.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted companies to make a profound shift from a traditional workplace model to almost fully-remote working, upending the way organisations and employees operate,” he commented.

“Now as the economy begins to reopen and the country transitions into the endemic phase of COVID-19, we believe that the future work environment is a hybrid work model. 

“The flexible working arrangements that we have introduced will provide our colleagues with more autonomy to choose how and where they work. 

“A hybrid work model offers employees the best of both worlds as they have the option to work in the office when needed for face-to-face collaboration with their colleagues or to work conveniently at a remote location of their choice. 

“It also enables employees to continue experiencing the camaraderie of office life which is critical for maintaining mental wellness, something that has been sorely missed during the long periods of lockdown.”

In addition to its Remote Work options, the Bank will continue to offer Flexi-2 which gives all employees an additional two hours a month off to attend to personal matters during the workday. 

Eligible employees will also be able to opt for flexible working hours, beginning their workday between 7:30 am to 10:00 am based on their preferred work styles.

Guided by care, collaboration, and culture

UOB Malaysia took in feedback from its employees on the strains of having their homes turned into their offices during COVID-19. 

During the peak of COVID-19, while 85% of them reported to be as effective while working from home, 15% said they faced stress-inducing challenges. 

These stresses included trying to balance family and professional commitments, lack of personal workspace at home, increased working hours from an ‘always on’ mentality and difficulty in nurturing teamwork and collaboration online.

“As the workforce returns to the office post-pandemic, we wanted to make sure that the mental well-being of our colleagues who choose to work remotely for two days in future are looked after as well,” Lai pointed out.

“We have also enhanced our mental wellness programme to complement our new flexible working arrangements and to help our people remain engaged and connected with each other. 

“At UOB Malaysia, we are committed to cultivating a caring workplace and workforce to help our people stay mentally resilient as they transition into the future of work while navigating the impact of the ongoing pandemic.” – Nov 24, 2021

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