Forum: Make working from home once a week the norm

Working from home once a week used to be a perk provided exclusively by some multinational companies.

This practice should be encouraged among other corporations in Singapore, if it is commercially feasible.

As the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus infection has risen to more than 80 in Singapore, most companies have come up with business continuity plans, such as assigning critical units to work in different locations.

Other precautionary measures companies have taken include temperature screening upon entry into office premises, declaration of travel history and daily sanitisation of the office.

But the simplest and most effective way to protect organisations from the virus is to make staff work from home.

I understand from some of my peers that their companies were not able to secure locations for split-mode operations when the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition was raised to code orange.

This shows the importance of a work-from-home system.

Moreover, allowing employees to work from home could boost morale. Employees can also save time on commuting to their offices.

Research by Stanford University economics professor Nicholas Bloom in 2010-2011 involving a company with 16,000 employees showed that there was a performance boost of 13 per cent and a 50 per cent drop in the quitting rate when the company adopted a work-from-home practice.

Some managers may worry that employees might abuse the arrangement.

But proper deterrent measures can prevent such misbehaviour. For example, companies can require employees to regularly report their work progress to their managers.

I believe that Singapore companies should promote weekly work-from-home programmes and invest in the facilities and software to enable staff to do so - whether or not there is a crisis.

Steve Li Tsung Hsien

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