PETALING JAYA: It is untrue that working from home will lead to Malaysians becoming more socially distant from one another, according to a counselling psychologist.

This is provided they continue to keep in constant contact with each other through various means, said HELP University Faculty of Behavioural Sciences dean Dr Gerard Louis.

He was responding to fears among certain quarters that the decision by some companies to ask their staff to work from home, in light of the Covid-19 outbreak, could lead to a more detached society.

Louis pointed out that even before the virus existed, the concept of home-based working has long been practised worldwide and with technology this allows for easier communication.

“Of course it will not lead to social distancing. Technology today not only allows us to hear others (via phone call), but to also see (via video call).

“Yes, working from home because of the virus can be disruptive to one’s social life, but you do not have to feel alienated. There are always ways to reach out and communicate with others,” he told theSun yesterday.

Louis even cited people in Italy, who are dealing with social isolation due to the lockdown, as an example of how people can always look for creative ways to communicate and keep up morale.

Various videos of Italians taking to their balconies and rooftops to sing in unison have gone viral on social media, with some also organising performances online.

Louis said similarly, it was absolutely critical that Malaysians continue to communicate with and engage one another and not see Covid-19 as all doom and gloom.

“We are all social beings. When we feel isolated, we will feel a sense of disconnect, and this is especially so for those suffering from anxiety and low self-esteem. We must not allow any crisis to remove the freedom that we have to interact, one way or another. If you really can’t meet face to face, then meet virtually,” he said.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Wellness Society president Datuk Dr Rajbans Singh said the concept of working from home practised by some companies due to Covid-19 is positive on two fronts.

He pointed out the move not only reduces the risk of spreading the virus, but also allows families to be closer together.

“In a way, it (work from home) is a good thing, as families will now have more time to spend together,” he said, adding that there are various activities that Malaysians can do indoors.