S'pore firms expect hybrid work to promote innovation, survey on future of work finds

As restrictions are being lifted across countries, people start returning to offices, marking the beginnings of a move towards hybrid work. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Hybrid work, where employees work partly from home and in the office, will promote innovation, said a majority of the firms in Singapore polled in an HSBC survey on the future of work.

More than half, or 53 per cent of the over 200 companies polled in Singapore, held this view.

The Singapore firms were part of a survey that polled 2,130 businesses globally, including in countries such as India, Germany and Australia.

The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed many companies to have their employees work from home. But as restrictions are being lifted across countries, people start returning to offices, marking the beginnings of a move towards hybrid work.

The survey found that 36 per cent of businesses in Singapore place high priority on creating an environment that fosters and enables innovation. This compares with 33 per cent globally.

Some 44 per cent of the respondents in Singapore prioritise workspaces that lead to greater collaboration (39 per cent globally).

Thirty-seven per cent envisage office spaces to be a place where people from around the world can physically convene (30 per cent globally).

New global trends are also changing how Singapore businesses invest in their people, the survey showed.

Firms in Singapore place a greater emphasis than their global counterparts on upskilling, especially in environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG), as well as in digital skills.

Some 41 per cent emphasise ESG skills development, compared with 33 per cent globally, and 43 per cent are focused on cyber-security skills (35 per cent globally).

Ms Regina Lee, head of commercial banking at HSBC Singapore, said the survey shows that despite the pandemic, Singapore's business leaders "have an eye on the future of work in order to continue carving out a commercial edge when borders and commerce fully reopen".

"Leaders know that in order to retain their competitive edge, they must prioritise investment in tools, skills and environments to spur creativity and innovation," she said.

The poll also found that more firms are prioritising their "social purpose" - how they reduce their carbon footprint, champion diversity and inclusivity, or manage their social impact.

Some 39 per cent of the firms polled in Singapore have established such a social purpose in the last year and a further 20 per cent planned to do so, the survey, which was conducted online in August this year, found.

Said Ms Lee: "Firms are becoming more aware of the correlation between sustainability and profitability, but they must be cognisant of the need to do so holistically."

Firms will have to implement corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies that are meaningful and holistic, and businesses must "look to how CSR forms part of a wider plan to engage with operational, employee, financing and community needs", she noted.

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