Working from home has been the default since September. But 50 per cent of employees who can work from home will be allowed to return to the office from the start of January, announced the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday (Dec 14). Kelly Bowerbank (Chua) – our Education & Training practice lead – shared with CNA her views on the benefits as well as the challenges.
WFH A “CHALLENGE” FOR NEW EMPLOYEES
But amid mixed feelings about a return to the office, there is one group who may benefit most from being in the office: New employees. When Ms Kelly Bowerbank-Chua shares about a potential employer with job candidates, some of the immediate questions she gets asked include: Does the company have a hybrid culture? And is it temporary?
“If a hybrid working arrangement is only temporary, candidates usually express hesitation”
So she believes the hybrid working arrangement that resumes on Jan 1 will be “highly welcomed”, especially by new employees.
“A full work-from-home arrangement has been challenging over the last two years, especially during the Great Resignation”
The Great Resignation refers to a global trend that has seen an increasing number of employees leave their jobs, usually following a period of reflection about what they want in life after living with the COVID-19 pandemic for two years.
The struggle of adapting to fully working from home is especially felt by job seekers, who may join a new workplace environment, and existing employees who receive new team members.
“You can imagine it’s actually been a challenge to build relationships and team cohesion or loyalty with new organisations during such a period, if it’s 100 per cent work-from-home.”
Almost all the candidates Kelly has placed during periods where an entire company’s employees work from home tell her that they “struggle and don’t know who to ask for help”. For instance, many face “anxiety” about asking their boss a simple question.
“When you’re in the office, you can form informal friendships, informal relationships, and you know who to ask for help. It’s something we often take for granted. Especially in fast-paced organisations where everyone’s very busy, candidates have expressed that when they start work, they send a private message to someone and people don’t reply to them. They wonder, ‘Is it because the person hasn’t seen my message? Maybe Microsoft Teams is not the best way to message someone? Maybe I should email, call or WhatsApp? What is the best communication channel? Who should I ask for help?”
Unless companies pair new employees with a mentor, a full work-from-home model might not be feasible. This model may also work if companies manage their expectations about employees’ performance while working from home fully, but
“we are still looking at an environment where companies expect you to learn the ropes as quickly as being 100 per cent on site”
As a result, with their transition to new environments, most new employees would need “very often, at least minimally a hybrid” work arrangement.