The Future of Work

- All Industries -  |  05 Nov 2021

The future of work

(September to October 2021)

At the start of 2020, millions of working lives looked vastly different. With COVID-19 forcing companies to adopt new ways of working, we asked companies in Singapore what the future of work and workplaces will change.

COVID-19 has brought significant changes to workplaces globally and the rapid changes in technology that followed made it critical for companies to ensure that their employees are equipped with the right skillsets to meet evolving business demands.

Our study aimed to understand how companies are managing changes in the workplace, including flexible and hybrid arrangements.

READ ALSO: Business Sentiments Survey FY21 Q2 report


COVID-19 and its impact on workplace arrangements

Hybrid and remote work arrangements have been increasingly normalised, with some employers considering making such arrangements permanent even as the pandemic situation eases. Our study found that 87% of companies are already on some form of hybrid working arrangement.

In August 2021, the Business Times reported that 46% of Singaporean employers have implemented more flexible working options, 39% of employers are planning on formalising flexible work options as the norm across their organisation, and 23% of employees are planning to return to the office.

This supports our findings. Looking forward, 43% of companies plan to adjust their working arrangements if the COVID-19 situation improves. About a third of these companies prefer their workforce based fully on-site, though a majority prefer to continue with hybrid arrangements.

Preferred work arrangement in future after COVID-19 for SG companies
Chart 1 showing SG companies preferred working arrangement after COVID-19

Changes to work arrangements have inevitably disrupted team collaboration and communication to some extent; these were the top two aspects of work that have deteriorated, seen in Chart 2. However, perhaps unsurprisingly, nearly 2 in 5 companies felt that work-life balance has improved.

Aspects of work impacted by remote or hybrid work arrangements
Chart 2 showing the aspects of work most impacted by remote or hybrid work arrangements


Technology and how it is changing the nature of jobs

Our findings showed that eight in 10 companies agreed new technologies will impact the nature of jobs in their company and industry. Companies and employees are tasked with the mission to upskill in order to remain competitive and relevant. Many companies believe that employees will have to pick up new skills or roles to stay relevant, see chart 3.

Impact of new tech on the nature of jobs
Chart 3 showing the impact of new tech on the nature of jobs

Our findings echo the article by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as part of the sustainable development impact summit in September 2021 on how Singapore is preparing for the future of work. The article noted that Singapore is ensuring that workers have the skills they need for the jobs of the future, e.g. through SkillsFuture, and has prioritised resources in education and lifelong learning to ensure workers have fulfilling careers.

WEF’s Future of Jobs Report 2020 cautions that “Skilling, reskilling and upskilling are vital to this (becoming tech-enabled), we need to be aware that the skills that were appropriate 25 years ago, even 5 years, might not be appropriate now.”

Our study further found that 3 in 5 companies that believed that employees would have to pick up new skills/ roles to stay relevant had sent their employees for formal training last year.

READ ALSO: Is your Singapore workforce getting enough training?


Supporting the Singapore workforce and attracting talent

Matching jobseekers to suitable jobs is a growing challenge in Singapore, with over a quarter of job vacancies reportedly unfilled for six months or more. While it is impossible to fill all job vacancies perfectly due to the skills needed or are available, there may also be a need for employers to consider moving past traditional hiring practices and look towards alternative strategies to attract and retain talent.

Impact of remote working on hiring
Illustration 2 showing the impact of remote working on hiring

In addition, companies believe that the top three factors that will attract talents in a post COVID-19 workplace are: competitive salaries, good work-life balance, and good organisational culture, refer to illustration 1 for details.

Top 3 factors that will attract talent post COVID-19
Illustration 1 showing top 3 factors that will attract talent post COVID-19


Some support measures

Career growth may come in the form of training and that is an important factor in talent attraction. Our study established that companies recognise the importance of training and reskilling for organisations to remain competitive. A similar point is reflected by PagePersonnel, which reported that across all levels of the company, from entry-level workers to VPs, the lack of upskilling options was one of the top three reasons that would cause their employees to leave their job.

To this end, companies may want to explore one or some of the available support schemes:

READ ALSO: Additional business resources (resource page)


About the Study

Our study aimed to understand how companies are managing changes in the workplace brought on by the pandemic, including hybrid or flexible work arrangements. The study was conducted from September to October 2021 with 679 business leaders across 16 sectors.

Register HERE to participate in our other upcoming surveys relevant to your industry.

FOLLOW us on LinkedIn to stay updated with our research reports, articles, and polls.

Click here for full abridged version of the findings.


Register your interest to participate in upcoming research & polls