While Singapore has moved into Phase 3 of re-opening since 28 Dec 2020, workers are still awaiting updates on restrictions and guidelines to return to the office. But in the meantime, like many others worldwide, employers in Singapore will continue to embrace work from home (WFH) and hybrid work arrangements together with the appropriate digital tools.
As we enter the new year, it is becoming increasingly clear that the hybrid working model is here to stay. To ensure business continuity, it is vital for employers to reassess the way they support remote workers, from managing their well-being to the adoption of new digital communication and collaboration tools, to optimise long-term productivity.
To help organisations understand which tools are most useful and where additional support is required, we asked 400 Singapore employees about their experiences of remote working since the outbreak of the pandemic. Our findings indicate a number of ways employers could use these technologies to greater effect (the full research methodology can be found at the bottom of the article).
Online meeting software and document sharing tools are critical to productivity
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t just changed where we work, it has also had a major impact on how we do it, requiring new solutions to maintain business continuity. Fortunately, there are a multitude of tools available to help staff work more efficiently remotely.
Our survey revealed that more than a third (33%) of workers surveyed considered online meeting software, such as Zoom, the most important productivity tool. Collaboration software like Slack ranked a close second (28%), with document sharing tools including Google Docs, a distant third (23%).
A closer look at the frequency staff are using these tools reveals some interesting insights. Despite respondents ranking collaboration software highly as a productivity aid, more than a third of employees (32%) stated that they rarely or never use it. This is a surprising statistic at a time when companies need cross-functional teams to connect and collaborate online, more than ever.
Document sharing tools and online meeting software, meanwhile, are being used at least daily by almost half of all respondents (47% and 43% respectively).
83% of employees had to source their own productivity tools
In many cases, the speed at which staff had to transition to remote working at the outset of the pandemic led to less-than-ideal support from their employers. 83% had to use personal tools to work remotely, suggesting that many companies are not providing the functionality staff need to be at their most effective.
Of those, the use of personal messaging apps (such as WhatsApp and Telegram) to collaborate with colleagues was common. Similarly, video conference (e.g. Zoom and Google Meet) is also used for this purpose. Additionally, some respondents found it necessary to use their own devices, including smartphones and laptops.
With hybrid working rapidly becoming the norm, it is increasingly important that all business-critical tools are provided by employers – to maximise security, ensure compliance, and support remote employees adequately.
51% of employees reported internet connectivity and speed issues during WFH
The results of the survey point towards a significant proportion of workers needing additional support from employers to help them adapt to working from home. The home office environment is a major factor, with over a third (31%) saying they need a more comprehensive set-up to work productively. Internet connectivity and speed issues have also proven a significant challenge for over half (51%) of respondents.
These obstacles are further compounded by cybersecurity concerns for more than half (64%) of employees – issues which could be alleviated by providing secure company hardware and software, rather than leaving employees to source it themselves.
Despite employees preferring hybrid work arrangement, concerns remain
According to our findings, while the vast majority of employees feel positive about hybrid ways of working (80% would like to work from home at least on a weekly basis), there is enthusiasm to see some transition back to the office. The most popular modalities are all hybrid in nature – requiring flexible software solutions to keep teams productive.
Despite this positivity, there are concerns about the implications of employees, as opposed to management, being able to determine their own place of work. The key fears include being overlooked for promotions and the risk of preferential treatment being extended to office-based workers – both of which are moderate or major concerns for more than half of respondents.
Overall, while feelings about hybrid working are predominantly positive, our survey highlights a significant need for some employers to ensure systems and support measures are robust enough to safeguard productivity. Investing in effective tools will not be enough if access and training are lacking.
Data for this study was collected in November 2020 from an online survey of 400 respondents that live in Singapore.
To participate in the survey, respondents had to be:
- Employed full-time or part-time, or self-employed
- Working for a company with at least two people
- Working remotely sometimes or all the time since COVID-19.