Employee Engagement

The Biggest Business Shift of 2020: Flexibility

Katie Ash

Nov 26, 2020

This past year has seen a rise in companies embracing remote work, after initially being required to work from home (WFH) to comply with government regulations and safe distancing practices. Some companies are now looking to retain flexible work and remote work long-term, as many workers love working remotely. Business leaders are also reaping the benefits of reported higher productivity of remote staff.

Lockdowns and restrictions pushed companies to digitise many areas of their businesses. 2020 has seen the rapid onboarding of new technologies across industries to allow companies to remain connected to colleagues and clients from anywhere. Many companies saw the need to remove paper processes and implement streamlined workflows by digitising content and making use of cloud-based and mobile-enabled platforms. 

Support for Digitisation

The Singapore government has stepped in to support businesses in going digital. SMEs are an essential foundation of the Singapore economy, employing two thirds of the workforce and contributing nearly half of Singapore's GDP. 

The Singapore IMDA launched the SMEs Go Digital programme, promoting the use and update of digital technologies to build stronger digital capabilities. Initiatives include the Digital Resilience Bonus for the Food Services and Retail sector, which were significantly impacted by the Singapore circuit breaker and safe distancing measures. This bonus of $10,000 helps towards getting businesses onto digital platforms that will support them in continuing to provide service in safe ways. The Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) supports businesses in the adoption of IT solutions or equipment that improve productivity. As part of the Supplementary Budget 2020, funding in the PSG was raised to 80%, effective from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2021.

Swingvy is a pre-approved solution provider under the Productivity Solutions Grant. Find out more: https://www.swingvy.com/sg/psg

Digitalisation as an Enabler of Remote Work

This year has seen timelines on plans to digitise business rapidly brought forward for many organisations. This has resulted in faster uptake and use of cloud-based technology, the use of video conferencing and other online collaboration tools, as employees work from home on a scale like never before.

While the uptake and roll-out of digital tools started as a necessity to enable business to continue operating outside of workplace environments, there has been a growing acceptance and appreciation for the benefits of remote and flexible work arrangements. According to McKinsey research, 80% of people enjoy working from home, with 41% saying that they are more productive than they had been before. With many businesses seeing this increased productivity, it’s safe to say that for many, remote and flexible arrangements are here to stay long-term. 

The embracing of flexibility in working hours and environments is sure to sit well with the younger workforce, as 75% of millennials want the ability to work flexibility without it impacting their eligibility for a promotion.

Flexibility as an Employee Benefit

Flexible hours and work-from-home arrangements are considered employee benefits. Benefit offerings in general can make a big impact on recruiting processes, helping to attract top talent. Even after a team member is onboard, employee benefits still play a major role in retention, motivation and productivity. 

Flexibility is now the top consideration of Singapore workers when looking to join a new company.

According to our recent Singapore Employee Benefits survey 2020, companies with added flexibility and who encourage a work-life balance are most appealing to Singapore workers.

However for some, reopening of workplaces will come as a welcome relief, as home environments are sometimes not suitable or productive for certain individuals or roles. People can feel overwhelmed by the always-on nature of the technologies needed to communicate and collaborate effectively, and some employees, especially those starting their careers, may not be receiving the support and mentorship they need. 

A balance must be drawn taking into account the benefits and drawbacks of having teams dispersed, and 2020 has provided companies with an effective case-study to make decisions about the future of their work environment. 

Across industries, organisations will use the lessons from this large-scale work-from-home experiment to reimagine how work is done, and what role offices should play. With the shift towards flex and remote work arrangements, fancy office environments will no longer be enough to attract talent and keep employees happy. As companies gear up to remain remote in the long-term it’s time to evaluate how they can continue to engage with their people in meaningful ways, growing employee loyalty and continuing to deliver value to their customers. 


Download our latest ebook, The State of Employee Benefits Singapore 2020, for more insights into what Singapore workers really want when it comes to employee benefits.

This 34-page ebook contains insights into:
– The current state of employee benefits in Singapore according to company size.
– The most valued benefits, and how these differ by age and residential status.
– How employee benefits can affect recruitment and employee retention.
– Which employee benefits are the most wanted, and which are underutilised.

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