The Future of Work Work & Wellbeing

Most workers in Singapore say flexibility crucial when returning to the office

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By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

November 1, 2021 | 5 min read

More than eight in 10 workers in Singapore who are returning to the office have said that flexible work arrangements are important to them.

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Business leaders cite challenges in building team morale (37%) as the top potential issue

At the same time, over three-quarters of business leaders say they recognize that providing greater flexibility to their employees is key to positively impacting company culture, according to a new study by LinkedIn.

“While flexibility is in-demand among employees and business leaders, it needs to be thoughtfully implemented to ensure that we meet the challenges that come with it head-on. Leaders must think about employee engagement, development opportunities and career progression through a new lens – one that puts people first and not location,” said Feon Ang, managing director for the Asia Pacific at LinkedIn.

“Above all, we must build workplace cultures based on trust, where there can be an open conversation between leaders and employees about the challenges that come with this flexibility. This is how we can break the stigma and thrive in the future of work.”

The survey was conducted with 2,269 respondents across the Asia Pacific in countries including Australia, India, Japan and Singapore. Respondents include leaders, founders and directors from a mix of small, medium and large businesses.

What did the study find?

  • Close to half of employees (49%) believe that the lack of face time with their boss and senior team members directly slows down their career growth, and 45% think there is still a negative stigma associated with working from home.

  • Additionally, business leaders cite challenges in building team morale (37%) as the top potential issue with a distributed workforce and fear employee disengagement.

  • Furthermore, the loss of face time (55%) and unavailable employees (48%) make it more challenging to establish meaningful relationships with their customers.

  • The majority of workers prefer a flexible working arrangement – close to six in 10 (59%) would prefer a hybrid mix of working in the office and from home; just over two in 10 (21%) would prefer to work from home full time, and two in 10 (20%) would prefer to work in an office full time.

  • They cited positive benefits from working from home, including increased work-life balance, improved personal relationships and better physical and mental health.

  • Over seven in 10 (76%) of business leaders, too, view flexible working arrangements in a positive light, as they enhance work-life balance, reinforce trust and build resilience.

  • There is also healthy agreement that a flexible approach to work will enable more diverse talent (74%), in part because more people can overcome geographic or systemic barriers to participate in the workforce (56%).

  • Business leaders feel pressured to implement flexible arrangements to align with Covid-19 guidelines by the Singapore government (53%) but also by employees (67%).

  • 40% of existing employees have already requested a flexible schedule, and business leaders have reported (56%) that prospective applicants are actively discussing flexible working policies before they even decide to join.

  • In terms of the ideal flexible working arrangement, the sweet spot for workers and businesses is three days at the office and two days of remote work. Almost two in five (37%) workers prefer this arrangement, while half of the business leaders in Singapore favor three to four days at the office and one to two days at home.

  • 71% of all business leaders say that they have introduced or are planning to introduce training courses to facilitate employee collaboration and productivity in a flexible working environment.

  • Close to half of employers surveyed believe that L&D initiatives will support employees’ efforts to keep their skills up-to-date, while also providing an avenue for employees to connect and learn together in a community-based environment.

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