In light of the current coronavirus pandemic, employers have been instructed to allow their employees to work remotely from home. The Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo on 31 March announced that employers who violated the order will be fined up to S$10,000 or face imprisonment for up to six months, or both.
While this could be a disadvantage for most of employers, employees seem to enjoy the work-from-home arrangements as a survey found that eight in 10 employees in Singapore said that they wish to continue working from home at least half the time or more after the “circuit breaker” period has ended on 1 June.
Human resources technology start-up EngageRocket, the Institute for Human Resources Professionals and the Singapore Human Resources Institute have conducted a survey on workplace sentiments in Singapore, which has gathered over 2,700 responses since 13 April.
According to the survey findings, eight in 10 employees in Singapore wish to continue working from home at least half the time or more after the circuit breaker is lifted, while 10 per cent of employees do not want to continue working from home after the circuit breaker.
Meanwhile, the findings also revealed that about 46 per cent of employees said that they were less productive at home.
Younger employees—aged 21 to 30—were less likely to have their productivity affected by the new arrangements, with only 40 per cent of this age group saying they were less productive compared to before the arrangements.
By comparison, older workers are more likely to be less productive with 49 per cent of workers aged between 40 to 53 said that they were less productive than they were before the work-from-home arrangements.
The survey found that these employees are facing some challenges that lead to their lower productivity when working at home, which include:
- Putting in longer hours than usual (22 per cent)
- Practical constraints – having family around, inadequate space, distractions – (22 per cent)
- The inability to gain access to resources and tools that are only provided in the office (21 per cent)
Working from home also causes stress for some employees, as 26 per cent of employees said that they experienced higher levels of stress amid the work-from-home order. Their concerns are largely due to:
- The health and economic impact of the outbreak on Singapore (67 per cent)
- The effects of working from home on their productivity and performance (64 per cent)
- The prospect of a family member contracting the virus (57 per cent)
Referring to the survey findings, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of EngageRocket, Leong Chee Tung said, “The next step for many companies, however, is to couple this flexibility with employee engagement programmes that help to alleviate the productivity challenges.”