Work From Home Has Heavy Consensus to Remain

Work From Home Has Heavy Consensus to Remain

May 6, 2020

EngageRocket, IHRP, and SHRI are keeping tabs on the Singapore workforce during the Circuit Breaker by leveraging on the largest dataset on the state of workplace sentiment since the start of the pandemic. The latest findings indicate more than 80% of employees want to work from home post-Circuit Breaker.

EngageRocket, in partnership with the Institute for HR Professionals (IHRP) and the Singapore HR Institute (SHRI) put together a People Continuity Package aimed to enhance Work-From-Home (WFH) effectiveness. Hundreds of companies have since signed up for this publicly available resource that allows organisations to gain a deeper understanding of their telecommuting effectiveness, employee engagement, and well-being.

The employee responses gathered represents the largest consistent dataset on the state of workplace sentiment in Singapore since the start of the pandemic. Since its launch on 13 April 2020, more than 2,700 responses have been analysed as of today.

Today, with more than 2M employees either telecommuting or temporarily in “hibernation”, COVID-19 is having a profound effect on the world of work. The pulse of the Singapore workforce reveals insights into how employees and organisations are reshaping what work looks in the future.

Key Takeaways

  • Employees view WFH as desirable but it imposes a tax on productivity
  • 80% of employees wish to continue working from home half their time or more post-Circuit Breaker while 10% do not want to work from home after the Circuit Breaker
  • More than 4 in 10 (46%) report lower productivity, taking more time to achieve the same as before.
  • Younger employees are less likely to have their productivity affected by working from home – 40% of younger workers, aged 21 to 30 years old indicated that they are less productive than before working from home, compared to 49% for employees who are aged 40 to 53 years old.

Main challenges included practical aspects such as family presence, distractions and space constraints (22%); working longer hours than usual (22%) and a perceived inability to access resources and tools that they could have in the office (21%).

According to IHRP CEO Mayank Parekh, the initial findings may change over a longer period.

“These are early days yet and we will need to see the results over a longer period. However there is no doubt Covid-19 will have a profound impact on the future of work. For instance, it has ended the debate whether or not companies should offer telecommuting. The next step for many companies, however, is to couple this flexibility with employee engagement programmes that helps to alleviate the productivity challenges,” says Parekh.

Mental health and stress are featured as key consideration in the survey, with a quarter of workers reporting more stress, mostly driven by concerns around the health and economic impact on the country (67%); that productivity and performance may be impacted due to working from home (64%) and
the possibility that a member of their family might contract COVID-19 (57%).

According to SHRI Executive Alvin Goh, mental health plays an important role in the way we deal with stress, how we relate to others, and the decisions we make in our daily lives.

“Without positive mental health, it will be almost impossible to realize one’s full potential, work productively, or handle the stress that comes with life. Thus, with the preliminary results, there is a greater need to focus and assist our workforce in overcoming the pressures that they currently face,” says Goh.

On the positive side, engaged employees say they are more confident of and committed working towards the company’s success in a crisis:

  • Among Promoters, 95% agree or strongly agree that they are confident about the future of their organisation
  • During crises like this, strong leadership and communication are critical. 94% of Promoters report being well-taken care of by their organisation, along with 88% of them reporting that they have strong management support.
  • 95% of promoters also indicated that their organisation communicates with them effectively throughout the ongoing pandemic.

Engaging Employees Critical for Post-COVID-19 Recovery

According to EngageRocket CEO Leong Chee Tung, measuring employee engagement and workforce attitudes are a business imperative, even during an economic downturn or a crisis. Leong says research shows that engaged employees are more likely to actively participate in crisis management to support and benefit the organisation.

Leong argues that high-performing and high-potential employees will be the key to any company’s recovery. Employers have to take action now to ensure that these business-critical employees do not resign when the job market stabilises.

“While ensuring business continuity is important through such crises, the need to engage employees effectively is a critical factor determining how quickly companies can rebound when the economy recovers. Singaporean companies of all sizes and industries are encouraged to improve their telecommuting effectiveness and keep a pulse on their employees’ engagement and well-being,” says Leong.

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