Work from home became a must for most businesses during the circuit breaker period that began in April. The measures are being eased as Singapore reopens in phases. However, even as more employees can return to the workplace, some employers continue to allow their staff to work from home and return to the office only when needed. That both bosses and workers should recognise the benefits of working from home is an encouraging sign that the world of work is adjusting itself to the new normal created by the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, according to the results of a survey, eight out of 10 workers say that they prefer to work from home or have flexible working arrangements. Commissioned by The Straits Times, the survey of nearly 1,800 people asked what work arrangements they would prefer. Four in 10 wanted to split their time between the office and their home, while slightly more than four in 10 said that they wanted to continue working from home.
Worryingly, about half the respondents felt that they would be penalised by employers if they expressed their preference for working from home. However, that attitude could change as the benefits of hybrid working, or a judicious mixture of remote and office work, look set to be one of the key features of the workplace after Covid-19. Clearly, the practice reflects the desire for autonomy, or control over their time, that employees prize. Yet, it also ensures that bosses can have sufficient control of the daily workflow so that corporate targets are met by employees and malingerers do not become a drag on general productivity. Also, from a logistical point of view, hybrid work reduces the need for office space, which is a key financial consideration in vibrant city areas where rents can be high. On the face of it, hybrid working presents a win-win solution for companies.