Some firms want staff back at workplace, but experts warn against rushing into it

From April 26, all workers may return to the workplace. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Some companies will require their staff to return to the workplace several times a week, after the authorities announced last week that all workers may do so from Tuesday (April 26) as part of the easing of Covid-19 measures.

Ms Jaya Dass, managing director of Randstad Singapore, told The Straits Times that from the second week of May, the recruitment agency will require its employees to return twice a week, based on their own team and work schedules.

Randstad Singapore has been operating on a fully remote working model since February 2020 for its 227 employees.

Ms Dass said: "In a fully remote arrangement, workers may lose some of their ability to adjust to body language cues and socialise with their co-workers.

"In the office, when there is healthy collaboration, workers can better hone their empathy, listening and teamwork skills."

Mr Ang Yuit, vice-president of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, said returning to the office will be critical for the onboarding of new employees.

Mr Ang said: "When you sit next to a co-worker, you learn about his working style, the office culture and how the company operates."

Sports technology start-up Elxr said it is looking at having all its employees return to office at least thrice a week from Tuesday to strengthen relationships between co-workers.

From Tuesday, all workers may return to the workplace, up from the limit allowed since April 5 of 75 per cent of those who can work from home.

However, business leaders and human resources experts warned that companies should not rush to return to the workplace, as employees would have to readjust after two years at home.

Ms Dass said that companies wanting all their employees back at the workplace will also have to ensure that their staff have a conducive working environment.

She added: "We have been sanitising the Randstad office, on top of the usual requirements, such as deep cleaning our carpets. All the facilities, like the television screens in the conference rooms, have to be functioning too.

"Companies that downsized during the pandemic may also find that they need more office space now."

Law firm Withers KhattarWong plans to revive workplace practices that support a positive culture, such as providing fruit and maintaining a well-stocked pantry for employees in the office.

The firm also plans to organise internal events in appreciation of their employees and to reinforce company values.

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