Recruiting experts, Hays, has conducted a poll of over 1,400 people globally to find out their concerns around returning to their place of work following the end of lockdown restrictions and the changes they expect to happen in the world of work as a direct result of the pandemic.

With circuit breaker measures coming to an end on June 1st, businesses across Singapore are preparing to resume operations in phases and bring staff back to the office. While community spread has largely been contained, many employees are facing the reality of returning to the physical office with the persistent presence of COVID-19. Moreover, while some employees prefer flexible or remote working, other may be struggling with productivity or maintaining work-life balance.

Majority in favour of returning to physical offices
When asked if they were looking forward to going back into the office, 48% of survey respondents stated they were, while only 25% said they weren’t looking forward to it and 27% said they were indifferent.

Grant Torrens, commented; “With nearly half of those surveyed saying they are looking forward to returning to the office, businesses must make sure their workplace is prepared, with social distancing precautions in place, to ensure they are continuing to prioritise the health and wellbeing of their employees. They must also make sure they are following any local government regulations or guidance. I think it’s also important to acknowledge that just because someone is looking forward to returning to the office, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are willing to face any perceived risks in returning, such as crowded public transportation services.” Grant Torrens continued, “People will be looking forward to returning for different reasons. Everybody’s lockdown experience has been unique to them. Some have been success in the transition to remote working whilst other others will have been trying to juggle other commitments, been ill themselves or some may have struggled to find a suitable work location or not had the correct equipment to allow them to work.”

Risk of infection top concern for employees
When asked if they had any reservations about returning to the office, 30% said they didn’t want to risk potential infection. Meanwhile, 18% of respondents stated they didn’t have any concerns about returning, 17% said they weren’t looking forward to their commute and 16% thought they had been more productive at home. Only 13% said they didn’t want to disrupt their new work life balance and 5% said they have other commitments which mean they must remain at home.

Commenting on the results, Grant Torrens said, “Businesses will have to manage the expectations of their workforce and make sure they are keeping them up to date with the latest local government regulations or guidance. It’s their responsibility to manage the expectations of their workforce and they can do so by ensuring there is open dialogue with their employees, allowing them to voice their concerns and anxieties. It’s then up to business leaders to address any potential issues and make sure they are as comfortable with the transition back into the office as much as possible.”

A new era of flexibility
When asked about how they thought their world of work will change as a result of the pandemic, 33% said they expect there to be more flexibility to work remotely. While 19% said they expect there to be fewer face-to-face meetings, 17% expect budgets to be cut and 11% expect the workforce to be smaller and a further 11% expect their priorities to change. Only 5% thought there wouldn’t be any changes and 3% expect their workload to be lighter.

Grant Torrens said, “We can expect some big changes in this new era of work versus the world we left behind just a few short months ago, some that aren’t even obvious yet. In a lot of ways, the pandemic has advanced how we work by a number of years and some of these changes we can certainly expect to remain. Again, it’s up to business leaders to be clear with their employees on the changes they can expect and how they will affect them. There are many considerations for businesses if they plan on permanently implementing some of these changes, such as inclusion when they are managing a hybrid workforce with a mix of office based and remote workers.”

Respondents were asked a qualifying question of whether they had been working remotely and responses were collected between 17 April and 11 May on


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