By the beginning of 2019, the novel Corona Virus known as COVID-19 began to emerge and spread at a rapid pace around: Strategic Business Project Thesis, UWS, Malaysia

University University of the West of Scotland (UWS)
Subject Strategic Business Project

By the beginning of 2019, the novel Corona Virus known as COVID-19 began to emerge and spread at a rapid pace around the globe, changing the way of life and daily behaviors for millions of people in order to protect themselves from the risk associated with the pandemic. People were encouraged to keep social distancing and follow procedures (SOP) to minimize further spread of the virus. These new procedures have impacted daily activities such as grocery shopping, meeting friends, eating out, going to the gym, and many other daily routines.

Workplaces of course were not excluded and strict measures for all business sectors including factories as well as offices have been established to control the outbreak. Remote work or better known as the “Work from Home” (WFH) arrangement has become the new norm amongst office workers (Lobell, 2021). Advanced modern technologies, such as cloud systems and virtual meetings supported by camera systems provide a remedy to a communication problem that arises in the scenario when office employees are working remotely.

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Not being physically present in the organization means that employees do not have the luxury to chat and see each other in person for important discussions. However, with those advanced technologies being set in place, workers now can easily WFH with little to no compromises in communication with the benefit of being kept safe from the virus. Employees can save the hassle to commute, sleeping a little longer, spending more valuable time with their families, and given the circumstances fall right out of their beds and work in their pajamas if they wish to do so.

However, the blended concept of working remotely while being stationed at home also comes with some downsides and issues. Despite modern technologies, WFH impacts corporate communication negatively, reduces the productivity of employees, increases the stress on the individual employees significantly, and hence reduces overall the productivity of a company.

This research paper aims to identify the issues associated with WFH during the COVID-19 pandemic in an electromechanical engineering environment, especially targeting the operation within Research and Development departments conducting WFH activities within Malaysia. Previous literature relevant to WFH or remote working has been reviewed and key contributing factors to the root cause of productivity decline identified. Based on the key factors Hypotheses are developed and tested accordingly.

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A survey comprising a questionnaire covering various factors related to the Hypotheses influencing employee productivity such as Work/Life Balance, extensive Virtual Meetings, Communication challenges, and Distractions while WFH will be conducted amongst R&D staff to gather data from a sample size large enough to gain statistical relevance.

Moreover, the gathered data and their correlation are statistically evaluated, the hypotheses challenged, and the conclusion to the issue of WFH during the COVID-19 pandemic drawn. This research finishes with a discussion of the findings and proposes practical countermeasures to avoid engineering organizations from a decline in research and development operations and efficiency while employees work remotely.

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