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Why It's Time to Embrace Workplace Flexibility More employers are providing flexible work arrangements on both formal and ad-hoc basis

By Nidhi Singh

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Workplace arrangements play an important role in employees' wellbeing and performance. With time, workspaces have embraced alterations and one trend that is emerging as a winner is flexible work arrangements (FWA).

According to a 2018 report released by Singapore's Ministry of Manpower (MOM), more employers are providing flexible work arrangements on both formal and ad-hoc basis. More firms have also been progressive in their provision of annual leave entitlement and work-week pattern. In 2018, majority of firms continued to provide leave benefits beyond mandatory requirements, in particular marriage leave and family care leave.

The report titled "Conditions of Employment' captures the general employment conditions and workplace practices in Singapore, specifically flexible work arrangements, leave entitlements, work-week pattern and sickness absenteeism. It also includes a study on the impact of various workplace practices on staff turnover.

Why Flexible Workspace Are So Beneficial

The report indicates that having flexible work arrangements that accommodated and provided employees with flexibility is crucial in reducing the likelihood of employees' resigning. This would be especially so for employees with important commitments such as family responsibilities. Offering FWAs enable employees once held back by other commitments to work. In turn, companies can retain and attract employees, allowing them to tap on a wider pool of talents.

Uncovering the Growth

The report found that the construction industry marked the greatest increase (+6.8 per cent) and services trailed close behind (+6.1 per cent) in providing flexible work arrangements. In fact, more firms provided formal FWAs in greater variety, as the proportion of firms offering only one formal FWA fell while at least two formal FWAs increased. The shift from only one FWA to at least two FWAs was observed across all broad sectors.

"More firms are recognizing the importance and benefits of FWAs as the proportion of establishments not offering formal FWAs decreased from 50 per cent in 2017 to 47 per cent in 2018. The fall was seen across all broad sectors, with services registering a steep drop of 3.6 per cent while manufacturing (-2.6 per cent) and construction (-1.8 per cent) saw moderate declines," the report states.

Part-time Work Most In Demand

The report further highlighted that among the formal FWAs, part-time work remained the most prevalent, with two in five firms offering this arrangement to their staff in 2018. This was followed by flexi-time or staggered hours (29 per cent) and formal tele-working (8.4 per cent) and. Among the ad-hoc FWAs, unplanned time off (81 per cent) was more common than tele-working (19 per cent).

"As firms have differing nature of business, the types of FWAs offered varied across the different industries. Part-time work was the most preferred form of FWA for companies in manufacturing and services. In construction sector, flexi-time or staggered hours took precedence. In short, more firms offered a greater variety of FWAs that were best suited to their nature of work," the report adds.

Nidhi Singh

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia-Pacific

A self confessed Bollywood Lover, Travel junkie and Food Evangelist.I like travelling and I believe it is very important to take ones mind off the daily monotony .

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