Remote work: Are you in for it?
Mercer’s 2022 Global Talent Trend Study showed that at least one in two workers in Singapore prioritise life over work and would be more inclined to stay in a company if it has flexibility and provides good employee healthcare coverage.
The bulk of 2020 and 2021 were spent working-from-home for some of us. National Safe Management Measures (SMMs) have further eased since 26 April 2022, which has allowed all employees to return to the workplace. Some companies and organizations have, however, retained the hybrid working format, while some require workers to continue working online due to the lack of office space, etc.
With most already used to meetings through Zoom, or Microsoft Teams, Webex, and more, it was unsurprising that 86% raised concerns that it may be difficult to build rapport at the workplace under remote and hybrid working modes. Employers have something to say too: more than one in two organizations in Singapore cited issues in scaling up and sustaining hybrid work.
Just recently, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung cautioned Singaporeans to expect another COVID-19 wave in July and August. If you’ve been paying attention to the recent trend in infections, there is indeed an uptick in numbers, and the daily recorded infections hover around 3,500 to 4,000. If the next wave arrives, are we expecting to work virtually again? Nobody knows, and we can only see.
Flexibility – the latest ‘in’ thing?
In the same study conducted by Mercer, almost two in five, or 40% of employees voiced that they were willing to forgo pay increases in exchange for flexible work arrangements. As a benchmark, this figure was 37% for Asia’s average, and 34% for the global average. After all, the most important thing is to get the job done, right? Meanwhile, for prospective workers seeking employment, the feeling of not being able to work remotely, or at least in a hybrid arrangement proved to be a ‘deal breaker’ for up to 62% of the respondents in the study.
Both Employers and employees should understand that flexible work arrangements should not be framed as a “us-versus-them” issue – just like learning, some of us are visual learners, some others auditory, or kinesthetic. Everyone (depending on the nature of their job) was forced into working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I’m sure that some of us do realize that we’ve become more unproductive at home as compared to the office, while on the other hand some really valued working from home due to reasons like environment, which has huge impact on productivity.
Tripartite partners recommend flexi-work arrangements to be permanent workplace feature
Earlier in April 2022, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) issued a joint-statement calling for flexi-work arrangements to be made permanent at workplaces.
Such practices include working from home, and staggered hours at the workplace. It’s up to the management of companies and organizations to decide what works best for the company and its employees. Do they want to prioritize productivity, or something else? It won’t be easy in seeking a perfect solution, but a compromise in-between would be possible, as seen in the hybrid work arrangements organizations continue to adopt even though all employees in Singapore can now return to their workplaces.
At the same time, it should also be acknowledged that flexi-work arrangements are a privilege. Some jobs, especially in the healthcare and service sectors command long hours and require physical presence. For those who got ‘called back’ to be in the office, do you prefer working at the comfort of your home, or the ‘good ol’ days’ of working in the office? Let us know in the comments below!
A young Singaporean concerned about issues workers face. As humans, we spend a third of our lives sleeping and recharging, and another third for our personal life, and the last third at work (based on a 24-hr distribution). That’s why we should pay attention to issues surrounding work.