A Call to Flex

Singapore business pushes back on flexible work.

A Call to Flex

Asia Pacific

Hays in Singapore have studied the benefits and value of the provision of flexible working options for organisations as well as employees. The recruitment business says there are positives to be gained in terms of attraction, retention and engagement. However, despite these benefits, some organisations have been reverting back to office-based work, which offers less in terms of flexibility.

“In recent years many businesses have been able to offer their employees more flexibility in terms of how and when they work, but business leaders have begun asking if this makes good business sense and positively impacts team dynamics. This has led to cases of reduced flexible working options”, says Lynne Roeder, managing director of Hays Singapore.

Hays warns there is a danger in cutting back the flexibility offered to employees, as it has the potential to lead to tensions between managers and employees, in turn impacting loyalty, morale, engagement and retention and attraction.

“I would urge businesses to think about why they started offering flexibility in the first place,” says Lynne. “If it was to attract or retain workers with sought after skills or to improve staff morale, then removing flexible working options will bring those issues to the forefront again. Ask yourself, is there a workable solution, a middle ground to keep both parties happy?”

 

While flexible working offers employees the freedom to choose when and where they work, it can create communication challenges. There is also a level of trust that needs to be awarded to employees if they are not office based.

Lynne adds: “Digitalisation has allowed skilled workers to be able to work flexibly, efficiently and remotely, and there is growing demand for new roles within this evolving landscape. Looking ahead, organisations will be able to focus more on adapting their workforce in the face of a rapidly developing technological landscape.

Lynne concludes by saying, “For workers in skill short areas, organisations that offer flexible working can often beat the competition to an employee’s signature. Cutting back on flexible working is a huge retention risk. Flexible working can still work, however, businesses must make sure employees know what is expected of them out of the office and that the company’s core values are understood. Common ground must be found, as businesses don’t want to lose their talented employees. One compromise could be to identify the work that can be done remotely and which will need collaboration and interaction with teammates.”



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