Minister of State for Manpower Siow Huang Gan has affirmed that there is ample room for employers to explore innovative approaches to flexible work, allaying concerns that such arrangements might compromise productivity.
During her visit to the AsiaOne office, Gan acknowledged employers’ apprehensions about the impact of flexible work arrangements (FWAs) on productivity, particularly for roles deemed unsuitable for such flexibility.
“We observe opportunities for employers to be imaginative and open-minded about various forms of flexible work arrangements,” Gan stated, as reported by The Straits Times. “Some employers have shared with us that embracing different flexible work arrangements can lead to positive outcomes most of the time when employees are willing to consider them.”
The concerns expressed by Singaporean employers mirror the anxieties of numerous business leaders that emerged during the pandemic when remote work was prevalent in many workplaces.
However, several studies, including one from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), have indicated that flexible working can enhance productivity and job performance.
“The number of hours worked, their organisation, and the availability of rest periods can significantly impact not only the quality of work but also life outside the workplace,” noted the ILO report.
Impact on Recruitment AsiaOne is among the Singaporean employers implementing an FWA system, granting employees six days of FWA every month.
Thiam Peng TAN, company spokesperson, informed The Straits Times that the system has attracted new talent, with a “significant number” of applicants inquiring about working from home or flexible work arrangements.
“It appears to be a major draw for people wanting to join us, which contributes to hiring more qualified individuals as well,” Tan remarked. The spokesperson also highlighted the positive impact of flexibility on employee motivation.
‘Normalising’ FWAs In Singapore, a new tripartite group has been established to formulate guidelines for employers intending to implement FWAs. Gan’s visit to AsiaOne included other members of the tripartite workgroup, such as Yeo Wan Ling, director of the National Trades Union Congress’ women and family unit, and Edwin Ng, Singapore National Employers Federation’s honorary secretary.
Gan mentioned that the forthcoming guidelines aim to address employees’ concerns about requesting FWAs. “The guidelines, when published, will seek to normalise the process of requesting flexible work arrangements,” she stated, as quoted by The Straits Times.
The guidelines are expected to be introduced later this year and will build on the Tripartite Standard on Flexible Work Arrangements. Singapore has long been advocating for employers to embrace FWAs, especially after their increased popularity during the pandemic. Gan highlighted that 12,000 organisations in Singapore have already adopted the Tripartite Standard on Flexible Work Arrangements.