COVID-19 has not only brought about changes in the job market, making certain jobs obsolete while creating new ones, but also significantly affected how we work now and in the future. One major change is remote working – which may be what you are doing right now while reading this article. Do you foresee yourself working remotely for the long term?
Based on a survey conducted in 2020 by The Straits Times, 8 in 10 of us in Singapore want to continue remote work or have more flexible working arrangements. In fact, Microsoft’s Work Trend Index 2021, published in May 2021 with Singapore perspective, revealed that 49 per cent of us are thinking of leaving our current employers — seeking the option of remote or hybrid work is one of the contributing reasons. Taking this statistic in mind, employers should and are also offering the possibilities of permanent remote or hybrid work. These companies range from Twitter, Microsoft to local banks like DBS and UOB. Now, have you also considered how you want to work in the future?
Before we start jumping onto the remote work bandwagon and offer this option, we need to ask ourselves — what will be the level of remoteness for employees in the different job roles? A simple rule would be that job role that requires a high level of collaboration or use of specialised tools to function, head to the office more often. For roles that require a higher level of concentration or have a limited need for on-site physical presence, provide better remote work options.
Now, you might wonder — even if I have the ability and potential to offer remote work, why would I do that? Well, there is a myriad of benefits that would entice you to offer and adopt remote work. Such benefits include having greater access to talent pools, reduced business expenses from office rents, as well as higher employee satisfaction and retention. However, there are also concerns and doubts towards remote working like higher costs to support employees to transit, in terms of equipment set-up, lowered employee productivity, loss of communication and dilution of relationship with employees.
There is really no hard and fast rule to determine whether you should adopt remote working. You would need to weigh the cost and benefits for the short and long run to come to a conclusion for your own organisation.
However, we believe that remote work is here to stay, and you should capitalise on this opportunity to propel you and your company to greater heights.
Given the current situation where most of us are working remotely in Singapore, we at Citadel Search have some tips for you! We urge you to place emphasis on the following issues which have become key priorities for many organisations to remain sustainable for the long term.
Challenges of remote working
With remote working becoming a lifestyle now, managing the health and wellness of employees has become more challenging. There are two main issues to note — burnout and social isolation. Remote working has mostly blurred the lines between work and personal time. In fact, more employees have reported working longer hours or even work outside of their usual work hours, resulting in burnouts. Coupled with having to work in isolation for most of the time, it has really taken a toll on employees’ mental health. This is confirmed by our recent Linkedin straw poll where 30% of 70 global participants said that “loneliness and isolation” was the biggest challenge for them while working remotely.
How to resolve remote working challenges?
What you can do to help is to provide more platforms for employees to stay connected. Organising virtual lunch or bonding sessions can definitely help social creatures like us to benefit from the support and comfort received. Another tip is to have a two-way dialogue session with your employees to communicate expectations, concerns or any feedback effectively. You can also take this opportunity to look out for signs of distress from your employees or challenges they face when working remotely. For example, some may feel it anxiety-inducing to have multiple video calls to report their progress throughout the day. Talk it through with your employees and show that you care. With the bonding sessions and mutual understanding of expectations or challenges faced, it will definitely help in keeping our mental well-being in check and even foster a closer relationship despite the physical distance.
Most importantly, managers need to learn to trust their employees and measure work outcomes instead of being too worried about clocking time.
Remote working offers you choices to look for talents that may not be local. Have you considered the options of repositioning some roles here in Singapore if you do not have a presence here in this market? Our Singapore work culture and strong work ethics are highly suitable.
- A Straits Times Survey on how many Singaporeans want to work from home or have more flexibility, by Linette Lai , Political Correspondent from Straits Times.
- Microsoft’s first annual Work Trend Index, which uncovers hybrid work trends during the pandemic, also revealed contributing trends including employee needs for continued flexible remote work, leaders being out of touch with how employees are faring and high productivity masking an exhausted workforce.
- Americans might never come back to the office, and Twitter is leading the charge, by Elizabeth Dwoskin from Washington Post.
- Microsoft is letting more employees work from home permanently, by The Verge. from
- DBS joins the fray as more Singapore banks make flexi-work permanent post Covid-19, by Vivien Shiao from The Business Times.
- What Is a Virtual Lunch and Is It as Bleak as It Sounds, by Janice Williams from News Week.