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3 Big Reasons More Singaporean Employers Should Let Their Employees Work From Home

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Joanne Poh

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To Singaporean employers, perks usually mean things like a gym membership, medical insurance or being allowed to wear jeans on Casual Friday. But being allowed to work from home is one of the perks that Singaporeans really, really want—but are often too afraid to ask for for fear that they’ll look like slackers compared to their colleagues.

That’s a pity, as allowing employees to work from home more regularly could be the solution to the lack of efficiency and engagement workers here display. Here are some of the advantages of working from home, or letting your employees do so.

 

Less commuting

No matter what SMRT says, commuting in Singapore during peak hour is stressful as hell. In fact, it’s so stressful that NUS researchers have been trying to find out whether surfing Facebook on your smartphone can alleviate the stress of the commute. What’s more, a recent poll revealing that business professionals here are more stressed out than they were five years ago showed that 44% were stressed out by the commute to work.

Working from home enables employees not only to save time and money that could be used in better and more pleasant ways than folding yourself into overcrowded buses and MRT cabins, but also to avoid the unpleasantness and stress of a grinding commute. Happy employees are productive employees, while miserable ones who come in exhausted from the bus/MRT ride are more likely to be one of those unhappy workers we’ve heard so much about.

 

More efficient use of time

Most people in Singapore work upwards of 8 hours a day, and having to do that during strict office hours (as well as way beyond closing time, as do the many overworked employees who work upwards of 11 hours a day) makes it difficult to do many basic things that are necessary for your survival, such as visiting the dentist, opening a bank account, picking up the kids from childcare or going to a polyclinic. Using your already limited annual leave to perform such tasks is pretty sad—especially when just leaving the office for an hour or two would solve the problem.

Working from home enables employees to plan their time. If they have something to attend to in the day, they’re not forced to continue sitting glumly at their desks with a ball and chain around their feet. That doesn’t mean the work won’t get done, it just means they can choose when to do it. Just having more control over their time can go a long way towards making employees feel satisfied and empowered at the workplace.

In fact, when employees work from home they usually start using their time much more efficiently. Without the pressure of staying till late at the office just to wayang in front of their bosses, they finally see the merits of getting the job done as efficiently as possible, rather than spending the whole day on Facebook.

 

Better job satisfaction and reduced attrition

By now, it’s pretty clear that most Singaporean workers aren’t happy. Singapore consistently performs poorly in polls that measure employee engagement, happiness and employee loyalty, with many citing stress and poor job satisfaction as reasons for their distress.

I can guarantee that allowing employees to work from home immediately boosts job satisfaction and might even enable a firm to see reduced attrition—yes, that means employees might just stop calling their recruiters with desperate pleas to just get them out of there.

And employers who are afraid their employees will start slacking off once they’re no longer under management’s watchful eye should simply ensure they have output-focused ways to assess their staff rather than relying on face-time and favouritism to determine who gets ahead at the workplace.

Do you think allowing employees to work from home is a good idea? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.

  • Leonard Lin

    Tried it. Employee became uncontactable, missed deadlines, got hardly any work done but tried to give excuses (Internet connection was down, etc). Had to fire her eventually.

  • Lwy Pug

    Dream on.

  • Koon Yen Low

    i’m all for working from home as i really abhor the idea of ‘showing face’ for the sake of it, and then end up surfing the web (like i do now). it does nothing for productivity, this relic of organising our work routine. and i believe as old ideas start to retire from the work scene, we might get the restructuring of and rethinking about work we need.

    in the meantime, employers can start by allowing flexible working hours for their employees. it’s something i liked about my previous job – flexibility of coming to work slightly later if you stayed back the previous evening; flexibility of taking some time out to attend to personal errands; flexibility to work from a different location.