DID YOU hear that more than four in five Singaporeans want flexible work arrangements (FWAs)? That’s from this October’s ASEAN Consumer Study, right? Look at it next to this other study from 2022, which finds that only half of workers here feel that FWAs should be the new norm. That’s quite the upwards flex for FWA support.
Exactly what sort of FWAs are we talking about here? All sorts. Flexi-time, flexi-place and flexi-load. Particular solutions for particular circumstances are what these arrangements are about afterall.
Aren’t FWAs just a pandemic thing? And the pandemic’s just a bad memory now. Yup, life is going on — as are all the other responsibilities which come with it. Briefly: Moms still have to do what they’ve gotta do (dads as well) and caregivers need to be there for their loved ones a lot of the time. FWAs can help people balance all these duties. So Minister of State for Manpower Gan Siow Huang keeps pushing for these arrangements across the workforce.
What sort of pushing? There’s her speaking with the Singapore National Employers Federation about FWA requests, for example. And there’s a group which is crafting FWA guidelines. Once these guidelines are released next year, Singapore’s workers and bosses can properly sit down with each other and find out which particular FWAs suit their needs. MOS Gan co-chairs this guidelines group.
Good that you mention bosses. I’m a boss and I’m not convinced about these FWAs. Productivity! Bottom lines! Think about it this way: FWAs means giving people the opportunity to be people, which means that they become happier and more motivated workers. Which also means less of that expensive employee churn in a competitive labour market. Like MOS Gan mentions, FWAs “can be a game-changer for employers in terms of talent attraction and retention”.
About that four in five number for FWAs, there are lots of people in Singapore who want to work but can’t… Yup. Especially seniors and people with disabilities (PwDs). But home-based work gets around mobility issues, and flexible shift timings means space for necessary breaks as well as medical appointments. So there MOS Gan was in Parliament back in March, delivering a twenty-minute speech which highlighted exactly how FWAs can include so many more of Singapore’s diverse people in the workforce.
That’s a thorough speech. What else does MOS Gan say about her cause? “We have made much progress in Flexible Work Arrangements [since 2020] and we must not lose momentum. Similar to the trend in other parts of the world, flexible work arrangements will become the norm of future workplaces. MOM will work with our Tripartite Partners to see how we can sustain Flexible Work Arrangements.”
Time, then, to see how work can *ahem* work better for us.