Work arrangements remain in a state of flux as the pandemic wears on and the authorities continue to uncover safety breaches at workplaces, but companies can manage fatigue by staying agile and prioritising staff well-being, say experts.
They noted that firms have largely grown familiar with remote work in the past 20 months or so, although some still struggle with it.
Manpower Minister Tan See Leng said on Monday that the failure to implement work-from-home (WFH) arrangements for staff who are able to work remotely is a common breach of safe management rules.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has conducted nearly 45,000 workplace inspections since March last year.
“The vast majority have been compliant with the safe management measures, but there were breaches,” said Dr Tan in a written reply to a parliamentary question by Workers’ Party MP He Ting Ru.
Dr Tan said 140 stop-work orders, 247 remedial orders and 399 composition fines were issued to 776 companies for breaches of safe management measures. Other common breaches include the failure to wear masks and keep a distance of 1m between individuals.
Experts said companies can rethink their policies to make it easier for staff to work from home.
Singapore National Employers Federation executive director Sim Gim Guan said: “Employers may need to adjust… operations to adapt to the prevailing condition. This is more apparent in sectors such as food and beverage and retail as the changes in safe management requirements affect not just back-end but also front-line staff.”
He added that flexible work arrangements and initiatives to promote mental well-being can support employees’ work-life balance and help staff be more resilient.
Singapore Human Resources Institute president Low Peck Kem said firms can explore a hybrid workforce that integrates remote and on-site work.
Mr Derrick Teo, chief executive of human resource consultancy Elitez Group, said firms can engage staff regularly through town-hall meetings or one-on-one sessions. Employers that cannot adopt a full work-from-home set-up should avoid allowing resentment to build up among staff, he added, as it lowers morale and, in turn, productivity and profits. “Returning to the office may be inevitable for some employees but it’s important to give them a channel to voice their concerns.” Singapore Manufacturing Federation president Douglas Foo said technology has transformed the future of work.
“Sensors can monitor and collect data and not everyone needs to be on the shop floor now,” he said. Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association executive director Ang Wee Seng said firms are also adjusting to changes, such as getting staff to do periodic antigen rapid tests, and having a fast internal reporting system. He added: “There will be fatigue in the long run, but in general, companies understand… the need for prudence, particularly when it comes to reopening safely.”