The Benefits and Challenges of Flexi Work

by Christine C. Bitoon



A recent survey conducted by Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower showed that 35 percent of companies are now open to at least one alternative work arrangement. This may include working from home or a mix of office-based time and telecommuting. A significant increase from the previous year’s 25 percent, this statistics show that the workforce environment in the country is learning to adapt to changes in the name of talent retention.

One can deduce that this change is brought by the growing number of Generation Y executives, individuals who want the most flexibility they can have. Together with their huge influence on the Singapore recruitment comes the benefits and the challenges of permitting staff to work remotely.

The benefits

Cost savings. Telecommuting slashes operational costs significantly, eliminating expenses related to lease, electricity, equipment and additional allowances.

Improved productivity. Employees do not have to travel to and from the office before they can work, giving them ample time to accomplish tasks. Moreover, most workers would choose to tackle all their tasks in a short span of time so they can spend the rest of their day on non-work matters.

More environmental-friendly. Firms who care about the environment are revered like rock stars of the corporate world. Such is the importance of eco-friendliness today that working from home has become one of the solutions to being more considerate of Mother Nature. As more employees are allowed to work right in the comforts of their own home, gas emission from cars and other transportation modes are lessened.

Access to talents. Telecommuting permits remote employees to easily accept a job offer than when relocation is involved. Flexi work then is a win-win situation for the whole Singapore job market – it enriches the talent pool in companies without demanding big adjustments on employees.   
The challenges

Less control. Monitoring employees who work at home is close to impossible. Unless both the employer and the employee agree on a strict reporting method, outputs may be the only determinants of productivity and accomplishment.

How to address it:
•    Allow only reliable employees to work from home.
•    Require regular reports on accomplishments.
•    Define targets.
•    Have monitoring tools installed in employees’ home computers.

Possibility of lower work quality. Because there is less control over employee behaviour at work, there is also a risk of substandard outputs. This may be due to distractions at home, lack of motivation and absence of teammates to collaborate with.

How to address it:
•    Provide benefits that uplift employees’ disposition.
•    Meet with employees on a regular basis to keep everybody on the same page.
•    Organize team building activities to increase motivation
•    Train employees in core skills.

Information risks. Confidential data getting out of the office infrastructure is something companies should evaluate closely. There is little control on information that is sent from the office to employees’ homes. Another information risk is when communication problems arise. This may be due to interrupted Internet connection or problems with voice data transmission.

How to address it:
•    Specify non-disclosure agreements on employment contracts.
•    Ensure safe and secure connections used in data transmission.
•    Change passwords often.
•    Devise alternative communication methods for emergency situations.
 

 
 
 

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