Employers in Singapore urged to adopt hybrid working arrangements

Multi-ministry COVID-19 taskforce co-chair and education minister Lawrence Wong has said a total work-from-home arrangement is “not doable”.
By: | January 29, 2021

He said there is still a need for staff to have some physical presence and face-to-face meetings in the future.  

“You cannot function effectively without that human collaboration and that social interaction. So, you do need a chance for people to come together,” Wong said. 

Nevertheless, he stressed that work arrangements would not return to how it had been during the pre-pandemic period, and urged employers to adopt more flexible, hybrid working arrangements. 

Wong said this in response to a question on whether the pandemic-driven rise in virtual working would threaten Singapore’s role as a hub. He added that the country’s ability to gain relevance as a global hub will depend on how it handled the pandemic. 

“There may be some sacrifices that are still needed from time to time. We still will need restrictions. But let’s get through this stretch, get everyone vaccinated, and we should be in a much better situation after that,” he said. 

Last year, Singapore entered phase 3 of the re-opening of a further resumption of activities on December 28 with pre-conditions like the use of TraceTogether, compliance with safe management measures, and adequate testing capacity. On December 30, the first person in Singapore, a senior staff nurse at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 

READ: Singapore maintains work-from-home as default option

The country implemented a circuit breaker on April 7, effectively locking down all “non-essential” activities. On June 2, it entered phase 1 of the re-opening, subsequently moving into phase 2 on June 19. Each phase gradually relaxed rules designed to contain the pandemic to “flatten the curve”. 

Speaking at the Institute of Policy Studies’ Singapore Perspectives conference which is themed “Reset”, Wong said it could take four or five years before the world sees the end of the pandemic, according to Singapore Business Review.