If they had the option, many office employees in Singapore prefer to work at home rather than travel to work. A recent study conducted by the international company Unispace, a design and office firm Unispace indicates that the majority of employers aren’t aware of the main reason behind this disinclination to go back to work.
“Singaporean employees are hesitant to go back to work and many are dissatisfied with the services that their employers offer, that don’t allow employees to fulfill their duties as effectively as they could,” says Sean Moran who is the principal of senior customer solutions for Asia in Unispace.
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Its Unispace Global Workplace Insights report entitled “Returning for Good”surveyed 9500 employees and 6,650 business executives across 17 countries around the world, including 500 Singapore employees as well as 250 top decision-makers from Singapore companies with more than 50 employees.
A misinterpretation between employers and employees
Moran points out that a gap exist between companies and employees based on what they believe the modern office should look like and what it is expected to provide.
Based on the findings the business leaders surveyed in Singapore may have missed the point of an increase in the number of people returning to work, believing that their employees’ disinterest results from a long daily commute as well as “the capacity to eat healthy from home”.
However, around the same amount, 68% of the Singapore employees claimed they are unable to perform their job in their office because of distractions. They also complain about a lack of privacy at work when compared to their home office as well as the fact that they feel better in a remote workplace and the perception that they work better in their homes.
“While employers think that employees are reluctant to return to work is due to the convenience factor, employees are actually more interested in working in environments which are not cluttered and enable them to work more efficiently,” says Moran.
The report also states that although the majority (56%) of the interviewed Singapore employees work hot-desking at the office and 94% of the respondents claim they’d prefer to visit the office more often when they were assigned a space. Furthermore there are the majority of respondents (61%) said that% said they’d be willing to accept a salary cut to work from home and 66% of them say that 66% report that they’re affected by burnout.
Crafting effective workplaces
Employers should get their office layout and space planning in order or else they’ll find it harder to recruit and keep talent, according to Moran. “The workplace is often the very first thing that candidates receive when they attend an interview. It’s a way for applicants to get a glimpse of what they’ll be seeing and how they’ll be working in the coming years. The office space represents the corporate culture.”
He suggests that employers look into the possibility of creating more private spaces for employees in the office including phones and meeting rooms. However, this is also contingent on the corporate culture so a survey of employees to know their needs and expectations is essential prior to beginning a redesign.
In Singapore the market for office space faces difficulties that stem from the lack of new Class A office buildings, along with the rising cost of office construction and fit-out expenses, according to Moran. On the other hand Unispace discovered that 76% of business leaders interviewed in Singapore declare that they’ve increased their office space in the past two years. Others are preparing to remodel the offices they have.
“We have seen increasing numbers of companies investing in the construction and reconstruction of their workplaces post-Covid in order to motivate the employees back in their work place,” says Moran. The loss of human connectivity in the aftermath of the outbreak led to the loss of many businesses’ employees, resulting in lower involvement and commitment Moran says.
He continues: “Though rental fees, construction and manpower costs are more expensive in Singapore The office will also have key performance indicators to the businesses in terms of recruitment and retention of talent.”
The office space can step into the equation to meet the demands of employers and employees while balancing offices, collaboration spaces and other amenities, according to Joanne Morris, head of design and delivery Asia at Unispace.
“More companies are creating larger, shared spaces that have amenities for leisure, such as gaming areas as well as fitness facilities and even pantries offering free beverages as well as the legal and banking industries — which are seen as conservative and traditionalare now open to hot-desking as well as meeting rooms that have inventive elements to boost the engagement of employees,” she says.
Then, in Singapore, Unispace worked on the design of VaynerMedia APAC, a creative agency located at 1557 Keppel Road. Around a fifth of the office space is utilized as an area for multi-purpose activities like launches, photoshoots, and town halls. There are numerous spaces for collaboration, rather than desks with designated spaces, and a majority of the workspaces are open-plan areas.
Moran says that focusing on office experiences is crucial when a new generation is entering the workforce. “We have seen a rise in companies offering more amenities to lure workers back into their offices including games rooms as well as free snacks and drinks as well as comfortable furniture. These would certainly attract the younger generation,” he says.
Trends for the future
Looking into the future, Moran sees an emerging trend among occupiers who are contemplating moving to Grade B properties located in CBD and city-fringe areas, shops, and industrial zones. These options for real estate are attractive to certain businesses due to the space’s size and the flexibility of area.
“We notice that more companies are changing their strategy and working environments, from traditional desks to incorporating more sustainable and health-related elements to their workplaces” states Moran. “More open spaces and wellness areas could provide a more pleasant working environment…which will draw more workers back to the workplace and keep them.”
If a company is planning to redesign their workplace, it’s an opportunity to involve employees to design workplaces that enable individuals to thrive. “Singapore’s high rate of burnout (66% compared to a global average of 59%) means that it’s essential for employers to offer their employees the amenities they require to perform their jobs in the best way they can,” says Moran.
The study shows that employees and employers in Singapore anticipate more time in offices in the near future however a large percentage of workers report having difficulty to do their task there, he adds. “This indicates that businesses have not yet created environments that allow their workers to perform as effectively in the workplace as they are when they are at home.”