Majority of workers prefer to pursue flexible working arrangements: IPS working paper

SINGAPORE: A significant proportion of employees here prefer to keep flexible working hours rather than working from the office or from home most days, according to research by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS).

The study, which surveyed more than 2,000 workers over nine months, found that preferred working arrangements have changed significantly throughout the pandemic.

From mid-July last year to April this year, between 41 and 52 percent felt that flexible working arrangements should be the new normal for Singapore workplaces.

During the same period, around 20-35% felt that working from home almost every day should be the new norm for workplaces.

These findings were published Monday (April 25) in a working paper on work attitudes and workplace arrangements amid COVID-19 in Singapore. It was written by four researchers: Dr Mathew Mathews, IPS Principal Investigator and Head of the IPS Social Lab, and three others from the Social Lab – Research Assistant Fiona Phoa, Associate Director Mike Hou and research associate Elizabeth Lim.

The researchers said in the working paper that the preference for working from home most days increased when COVID-19 cases in Singapore increased, while there was an increase in the preference for working in the office with the easing of pandemic restrictions.

“This suggests that there has been a change in attitude towards living with COVID-19 as more employees return to the office and the number of COVID-19 cases is under control,” the newspaper said.

In more recent waves, about four in 10 (37-43%) believed employees should be allowed to work from home three days a week.

In fact, more respondents are returning to work almost every day. At least half of the respondents in the study have done so during the pandemic, and the proportion has increased in 2022.

As many as 74% said they returned to work most days when surveyed between April 1 and April 11.

“Some, however, felt coaxed into returning,” the researchers said.

Between 37 and 42% of respondents who currently work from home most or all of the time felt compelled to return to the office most days, but this proportion has steadily declined.

The multi-departmental COVID-19 task force announced last Friday that all employees can return to the workplace from Tuesday, along with a further relaxation of safe management measures, such as the removal of group size restrictions. .

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