While Singapore has done a lot over the years to promote and facilitate flexible working arrangements such as telecommuting, the take-up rate must have been the highest ever in the past two weeks.
It is great that companies have been using teleconferencing, file sharing and other applications that facilitate virtual teamwork.
This has just turned into one of the best solutions for business continuity and in dealing with the unforeseen coronavirus crisis.
As many companies and staff may not have set guidelines about flexible work arrangements, there may be unexpected inconveniences during this quick implementation. For example, flexi-place, that is, working from home, does not equate to flexi-time, meaning working any time, rather than regular office hours.
I hope both employers and employees will take this period as a learning experience to fine-tune flexi-work arrangements so as to achieve the best results.
The time saved on travelling and getting caught in traffic jams can be used for personal care, such as exercising.
Pockets of time during tea breaks and lunch can be spent with loved ones at home.
For those who miss social interaction, arranging for a short chat with colleagues or managers regularly may be better than a string of phone messages.
Managers can set clear expectations of results for each week or month, while staff can update the manager and team regularly via e-mails, should face-to-face contact be reduced.
Every individual has a preferred flexi-work arrangement or system. There's no perfect formula, but constant calibration will deliver benefits for employer, employee and the economy. It's time to look into the many possibilities of flexi-work arrangements.
Yeo Miu Ean