A recent pulse survey on the Singapore workforce that is experiencing soft lockdown measures called Circuit Breaker showed that employees are changing their attitudes toward work from home (WFH) measures. In fact, 80% said that if given a choice, they would like to continue working from half their time or more.
The survey was part of a joint effort by EngageRocket, Institute for HR Professionals (IHRP) and the Singapore HR Institute (SHRI) on the People Continuity Package. The Package is a publicly available resource for companies to learn about their telecommuting effectiveness, employee engagement, and their well-being.
Based on the survey results, employees seem to like the flexibility of working from home. With 80% saying they wish to continue working from home half their time or more after the Circuit Breaker, it shows that companies need to consider workforce flexibility. Only 10% said that they would not like to work from home after the Circuit Breaker. While this is a minority, HR leaders will need to cater to this significant group of employees.
“These are early days yet and we will need to see the results over a longer period. However, beyond doubt, COVID-19 will have a profound impact on the future of work. For instance, it has ended the debate whether companies should offer telecommuting,” says Mayank Parekh, chief executive officer at IHRP. “The next step for many companies, however, is to couple this flexibility with employee engagement programs that help to alleviate the productivity challenges.”
Keep in mind that working from home in Singapore is different from other countries where hard lockdown measures stop employees venturing out of their house or have only a limited time to stay outdoors.
While they may be happy with the current arrangement, Singapore employees feel that they are not as productive. Over 4 in 10 (46%) reported lower productivity, taking more time to complete the same tasks as before the Circuit Breaker.
The primary challenges to productivity are family presence, distractions and space constraints (22%), working longer hours than usual (22%), and having difficulties when accessing resources and tools that they could have in the office (21%).
HR leaders need to monitor the mental health and stress that employees face with WFH. A quarter of workers reported more stress, driven by concerns around the health and economic impact on the country (67%), impact on their productivity and performance (64%), and that a member of their family might contract COVID-19 (57%).
“Without positive mental health, it will be almost impossible to realize one’s full potential, work productively, or handle the stress that comes with life. Thus, with the preliminary results, there is a greater need to focus and assist our workforce in overcoming the pressures that they currently face,” says Alvin Goh, executive director at SHRI.
Leong Chee Tung, co-founder, and chief executive officer of EngageRocket, sees measuring employee engagement and workforce attitudes as business imperatives. Engaging and keeping high-performing and high-potential employees will be important for a company’s recovery post-Circuit Breaker.
“While ensuring business continuity is important through such crises, the need to engage employees effectively is a critical factor in determining how quickly companies can rebound when the economy recovers,” adds Leong.
Photo credit: iStockphoto/Sushiman