Singapore firms need open, integrated tools in hybrid work

The shift to hybrid work requires Singapore businesses to reassess their operating model and identify requirements specific to their work environment. Policies should facilitate flexibility alongside productivity, while tools will need to be integrated to ensure seamless user experience. 

With hybrid work continuing to gain traction, organisations must adapt or risk losing the ability to attract and retain talent, said Geraldine Kor, Telstra’s South Asia managing director. She noted that the shift had introduced challenges for companies in terms of delivering meaningful employee experiences. 

“Virtual and remote onboarding processes, for instance, haven’t necessarily evolved with this new way of working,” Kor told ZDNET. “Companies need to understand how to navigate these challenges to create a positive experience for new starters. This is especially so in Singapore, where hybrid is increasingly the norm in many organisations due to strong government support for flexible work arrangements.”

Work-from-home setups, for instance, might not be ideal options for everyone or suitable for all occasions, said Dan Bognar, DocuSign’s group vice president and Asia-Pacific Japan general manager. 

According to research from the document management vendor, 79% of employees in Singapore believed working from home still had its share of obstacles, two years after companies began adopting a flexible work model. Some 40% saw no change in their productivity while 19% indicated their productivity dipped when they worked from home. 

The findings suggested that the technology and tools workers were equipped with, at the location where they worked, were critical to their productivity, said Bognar. 

A study from Logitech saw 59% of white-collar workers in Singapore acknowledging meetings would be more productive if all participants had equal opportunities to contribute and speak. Another 56% said in-office participants were more engaged during hybrid meetings than their peers who were dialling in remotely. 

DocuSign’s research also found that 49% of Millennials and 44% of Gen X workers in Singapore believed remote working had hampered teamwork and collaboration with colleagues. 

To address such challenges, companies should adopt tools that were robust and well-integrated, in order to ensure a holistic employee experience even for those working from home, Bognar said. 

“Empowering employees with the best tools that allow them to perform from wherever is a key success factor,” he added. “Organisations that are successful [because they] invest in the right innovative solutions that ensure their staff have the right tech support in their work.”

To do so, he urged companies to include their employees’ perspectives in reviewing their business processes and identifying hybrid work models that were appropriate for their organisation. “This way, you can maximise efficiency, collaboration, and creativity,” he said, adding that businesses then needed to fully embrace hybrid work policies that allowed workers to exercise flexibility.

Kor further noted that small and midsize businesses (SMBs) struggled with deploying technology that were critical in enabling hybrid work. Singapore companies often point to challenges in cross-departmental collaboration as well as difficulty in selecting the right technology amongst a multitude of options as key barriers.  

It is critical for organisations, regardless of size, to overcome such challenges quickly so employees have the tools they need,” she said, adding that managing a decentralised workforce also required consistency in practices, guidelines, and policies across the organisation. 

Adopt tools that drive open, integrated collaboration

In particular, technologies that facilitated open communication and collaboration were key to hybrid work, according to Kor. In addition to collaboration tools, visual collaboration platforms or whiteboarding tools also were essential to facilitate brainstorming amongst teams that were increasingly hybrid, she said.

Noting that employees were eager to build stronger relationships with their hybrid teams, Kor said the right technology was important to create a seamless office experience for those who worked from home.  

“Today and in the future, we will need smart software that enables multiple employees working remotely to feel just as much a part of the action as those who are in an office,” she said. Telstra provided essential office equipment such as monitors and standing desks, as well as a self-service toolkit application, to support its own hybrid teams, she added. 

Bognar noted that while many IT departments had stepped up to support hybrid work following the global pandemic, some might not have deployed technology that were scalable. He underscored the need for organisations to regularly reevaluate their IT systems to identify and replace tools that consumed a disproportionate amount of cost and resources.  

Kor said: “An optimised hybrid workplace ensures flexibility and productivity, and businesses may need to relook their operating models and work arrangements to make this possible. Beyond tools and technology, this also includes having sufficient policies and programmes.”

“With many employees choosing their next job based on the ability to work from anywhere, companies that have strong infrastructure to facilitate flexible work will be able to better attract talent. Our research shows that more than half of business leaders are seeking to boost their cloud infrastructure, including cloud-based security platforms and services, to better manage a decentralised workforce,” she said. “Companies have an opportunity to better align their business processes and priorities across a distributed workforce, and to evolve collaborative processes and workflows in place to keep pace with their employees’ needs.”