Forum: Seize the chance to help economy, environment

As the number of Covid-19 infections dwindles, the Government is relaxing the rules on going back to the office, with employers being able to direct employees to go in as long as safe measures are observed.

For years, there has been a debate on the issue of remote working, with advocates citing time saved on travel, fewer distractions and the possibility of having shared desks, which would facilitate smaller offices and savings on rental and utilities.

Also, the reduced passenger load on public transport and lighter traffic on the roads would result in lower carbon emissions.

But sadly, many employers did not provide for remote working or did not allow it in practice, even if it was an option in the employee handbook.

When Singapore enforced the circuit breaker to stem the spread of Covid-19, it was a blessing in disguise. People welcomed the opportunity to work from home, and many whom I spoke to said they were more productive at home than when they were working in the office.

They also benefited from greater work-life balance (another issue the country has been grappling with for years) as a result of the elimination of travel time.

As we gradually reopen the country, we should seize the opportunity to return to a new normal - that is, one that is environmentally sustainable and potentially more productive.

Employers should be more proactive in promoting work-from-home arrangements, rather than allowing it for only a few employees or even restricting it. Work towards outcomes instead of being concerned with having staff at their desks for enough hours.

If employers can begin to have such a mindset, than the national economy and environment stand to benefit.

Adam Reutens-Tan