Poll: 2 in 5 millennials wary of not being in office

Tech start-up Garena’s office at Fusionopolis.
Tech start-up Garena’s office at Fusionopolis. PHOTO: BUSINESS TIMES

In the perennial struggle for work-life balance in Singapore, many millennials here are worried that kicking up their heels may give them the boot.

Findings from a survey released yesterday showed that 42 per cent of millennials here aged 18 to 30 were concerned that they would not be perceived as hard-working if they are not in the office.

The survey also found that even though 71 per cent of their employers offer flexible work arrangements, just 25 per cent of these millennials are engaged in such work.

The survey - which polled 2,000 people here, with half of them being millennials - was conducted in December by brand consultancy Morar Consulting and commissioned by video-conferencing tech firm Polycom.

Flexible work is defined in the study as an employee's ability to work from any location - such as in an office, home, cafe or library - for optimum productivity.

  • 71%

    Of employers of millennials offer flexi-work arrangements.

    25%

    Millennials took up these arrangements.

The survey was also conducted in 11 other countries and a similar trend regarding flexi-work was found in several jurisdictions.

For instance, in China, only 21 per cent of millennials there adopted flexible work, and 44 per cent were worried about being seen as not hard-working if they did not clock hours in the office, while in Germany, the figures were 25 per cent and 38 per cent respectively.

Mr Erman Tan, president of the Singapore Human Resources Institute, said senior management of companies need to be more progressive when it comes to work arrangements to be successful.

"It's not just about physical presence (at work) anymore. With technological advancements, companies can gain more by adapting their definition of 'hard-working' to include flexi-work arrangements."

Mr Louis Sim, 28, who works in an IT company, said his firm encourages employees to work remotely if they have to, as long as they complete their tasks for the day.

Still, he believes some young employees may feel a sense of unease, especially those who feel pressured to climb the corporate ladder.

"While I embrace flexible and mobile work arrangements, I notice there is an underlying sense of fear that if people arrive late for work, they will be perceived as lazy or shirking responsibility," he said.

One issue is that work attendance remains a persistent performance measure, said Ms Linda Teo, country manager of recruitment firm ManpowerGroup.

"The current economic (slowdown) and frequent news of retrenchment evoke in employees fear that they might be shipped out if they don't meet employers' expectations," she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2017, with the headline 'Poll: 2 in 5 millennials wary of not being in office'. Print Edition | Subscribe