Moving Employees Forward in 2021

written by:
SWAT Mobility Team
Published on:
May 17, 2021

It’s been a year of mostly work-from-home for many of us, and all things point to this being the new norm. While companies struggle to balance employee safety and well-being with work productivity,  the practical reality is likely to be a hybrid of work-from-home (WFO) and work-in-office (WIO). As commuting is a strong deterrent to WIO, it is important to understand how employees feel about commuting to work as Singapore eases restrictions and progressively reopens for business.

SWAT Mobility collaborated with a team of students on their field study project, supervised by Professor Vivien Lim at National University of Singapore Business School, to gather insights on employee sentiments in the current climate*. The Employee Sentiment Pre and Post Circuit Breaker Report looks at how employees' sentiments towards working in the office, overall productivity and well-being, and their thoughts on commuting, since working from home. It aims to help employers better understand how to boost employee satisfaction and strengthen productivity in the current climate.

Are your employees more productive working from home? 

A majority of employees in Singapore prefer working from home (WFH), or at least a form of hybrid work arrangement. Working from home has an impact on productivity levels, with most employees reporting increased productivity since WFH. 

However, 30% of study respondents found WFH less productive, citing reasons such as longer working hours, inefficiencies in virtual communication, distractions at home and difficulty convincing bosses of productivity. While WFH allows employees the flexibility to take breaks, respondents also reported that their mental wellbeing is negatively affected. 

It is no question that the current state of work has now shifted to a hybrid work arrangement, but a fully WFH arrangement does not seem to be the way forward. 

Finding the balance between WFH and WIO (Work In Office)

According to our report, employees achieve optimal productivity when they work from the office for 2 out of 5 days in a typical work week. Among the survey respondents, across businesses, employees now commute to work an average of 1.11 days in a week. 

Encouraging employees to work in the office more often may improve overall productivity. 

Employees’ thoughts on safety and commuting to work

Sentiments of commuters regarding mode of transportation before and after Covid-19 have have shifted greatly. After Covid-19, ⅓ of commuters feel unsafe travelling via public transport. This is a 5-fold increase compared to before. Commuters who shifted from public transportation to private modes of commuting due to the pandemic are also willing to spend significantly more to feel safer.

There is a disconnect between how employees and corporations feel

Employees highly appreciate their employers providing safe transport - over 70% of respondents indicated that transport benefits will improve their motivation to work. 

On the other hand, most employers surveyed feel that providing transport isn’t important to their employees. Understandably, companies are concerned about the cost of providing transport, but consider what an increase in productivity of 70% of your employees will bring.

Why it matters

Since commuters now prioritise time to destination and convenience over costs, employers can consider engaging in a co-pay model for the provision of transportation.

From the survey, an interesting insight is that respondents see benefits in commuting. On top of acting as a barrier to segregate work and personal life, commuting also allows employees to engage in self-reflection activities, which have benefits to their wellbeing. In addition, while reducing the duration of commuting helps to improve productivity and increase sleep, there is an optimal commuting time for employees to reap the benefits of commuting. 

Smart transport technology exists that allows companies to manage employees’ journey times and let employees rest during commutes.

Rethink your corporate benefits for 2021

Deciding on what benefits to offer your employees will be a constant struggle, but with safety on everyone’s minds, employee transport should be an important part of the discussion. Get more insights into how your employees feel about their situation. Download the Employee Sentiment Pre and Post Circuit Breaker Report to explore, understand and move forward in this year of recovery.

*This study was conducted in Q4 of 2020, by a team of students for their field study research, supervised by Professor Vivien Lim, Professor at the National University of Singapore, Department of Management and Organization, with expertise in workplace health and other disciplines.