Flexi work arrangements can improve employees’ mental health

In Singapore, as more employees head back to the office, giving them more flexibility over work arrangements can boost their mental well-being.
By: | January 19, 2021

This is according to a panel of mental health experts and business leaders in Singapore.

“Some people might be afraid or anxious about returning to work because of the risk of contracting the virus when travelling during peak hours. Supervisors could take a more understanding view and allow employees to come in during off-peak hours,” said Associate Professor John Wong Chee Meng, a mental health expert at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. 

He added that as many employees have already worked from home for many months, “it’s a good time, during the pandemic, for all workplaces to consider how they may re-calibrate work arrangements to provide better work-life balance for employees”. 

Adding to that, professional speaker and entrepreneur Wong Su-Yen said companies should consider, for instance, shifting some of the budget for the rental of office spaces to support employees in ways like providing them with ergonomic seating and good wi-fi connections when they work from home. 

Besides flexible work arrangements, employers should ensure that their staff’s mental well-being is taken care of.        

Irene Ang, CEO and founder of local entertainment agency FLY Entertainment, said she has learnt to spot the signs of emotional distress among her staff and reach out when necessary. 

Club HEAL counsellor Nabiilah Hanifah said signs of work anxiety include being flustered, and having difficulty focusing or remembering things, while Prof Wong said the most visible sign of stress is irritability, for example, in day-to-day conversations. 

The panellists all agreed that injecting some fun into meetings by playing games, or allocating time for employees to share their feelings or converse with their colleagues about themselves will boost their staff’s mental health. 

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For more serious cases of stress and burnout, the panellists said staff should communicate their needs to their immediate supervisors, and employers should try their best to accommodate their requests within reason. 

The panel discussion was moderated by Singapore Kindness Movement general secretary William Wan, according to The Straits Times.