By Michael Switow
As Singapore eases its âcircuit breaker,â the term used here instead ofÂ âlockdown,â the ways of working for most employees in the nation since the beginningÂ of the coronavirus have not changed. Project managers, administrators, marketers, andÂ even C-suite leaders continue to carve out space on their dining room tables and couchesÂ for Zoom calls, team meetings, and sales pitches.
Only employees who require specialised equipment or who need to be in the office toÂ âfulfil legal obligationsâ like finalising a contract are allowed to go to the workplace. TheÂ vast majority of white-collar professionals must continue working from home.
âWeâre realising that we can be just as productive at home as we have been in the office,âÂ Singapore Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who is also co-chair ofÂ Singaporeâs COVID-19 multi-ministerial task force, wrote in a Facebook post. âManyÂ employers and managers will need to adjust their mindsets to this new normal. Itâs noÂ longer about having all your staff physically present at work.â
Even if staff need to go to the office, Wong adds, employers must consider if they areÂ needed on-site every day. In addition, companies must offer staggered work hours,Â ensure social distancing in the office, and provide high hygiene standards and goodÂ ventilation.
Wong is hardly the only person rethinking the office place. Twitter and Square CEOÂ Jack Dorsey has told employees they can continue working from home âforever,â whilstÂ Facebookâs Mark Zuckerberg expects up to half of the social media giantâs employees willÂ work remotely in future.
Some companies are better prepared for this shift than others.
One-quarter of CISCOâs global workforce was already working remotely even beforeÂ COVID-19. Yet in Japan, three-quarters of companies surveyed by YouGov prior to theÂ pandemic said they were not ready for remote work. A similar percentage of companiesÂ in India believe remote working will hurt productivity, according to an EY survey onÂ resilience planning.
However, a closer look at the data shows productivity does not have to drop. Take theÂ case of ThoughtWorks. The software consultancy says many of its teams in China actuallyÂ achieved higher levels of efficiency once remote working became a necessity.Â In this edition of HRO Today APAC, we look at how Asia-Pacific businesses are adapting toÂ these new times, as well as insights on what the future holds.