Singapore’s future of work is shaping up

Offices now, more so than ever, will be the core of the work ecosystem as an outstanding office environment is critical for employee engagement.

July 27, 2021

Offices now, more so than ever, will be the core of the work ecosystem as an outstanding office environment is critical for employee engagement.

This is the conclusion drawn from the JLL Worker Preferences Barometer comprising a series of three surveys conducted in April 2020, October 2020 and March 2021. These surveys questioned employees across ten countries to understand their feelings about homeworking and its impact on their priorities at work, performance and well-being.

The responses of over 300 employees based in Singapore indicated the following:

1. Physical offices are here to stay as homeworking fatigue sets in 

The ideal number of days that employees would like to work from the office has risen from 1.7 days in the October 2020 survey, to 2.3 days in the March 2021 survey. At the same time, the ideal number of days they would like to work from home fell to 2.0 days in the March 2021 survey, from 2.4 days in the October 2020 survey.

This comes about as workers are experiencing an increased amount of virtual fatigue or burnout and want to return to the office more. They are craving face-to-face human interactions with colleagues and missing that change of scenery from working and living in different places. 

Figure 1: Most missed aspects of the weekly routine

Source: JLL Research

2. Purpose-led offices are the new future

People are more demanding about what the office should offer them in the future. Only 45% of respondents in the March 2021 survey are satisfied with their current office, down sharply from 60% in April 2020. This is a clear signal that offices need in-depth redesign to meet employees’ new expectations.

Our survey suggests that offices of the future will have to be more humane and resilient, as 71% of the respondents want to be working in an environment that puts health and well-being at the forefront. One in two respondents wants to be in workplaces that are able to innovate and adapt to future crises.

The future office will also have to cater to new working practices developed during the pandemic, such as the option to work remotely or safe distancing. Two in five employees expect to continue to leverage digital interactions whenever possible. They want less density and more physical separation in workplaces, while one in four does not wish to share a desk anymore.

Figure 2: New healthy habits

Source: JLL Research

3. Flexible work to go mainstream

Work-life balance is the new employee motto, overtaking a comfortable salary as the number one priority of today’s workforce. On this note, the appetite for flexible work has grown significantly, with nine in ten respondents finding it an attractive option, up from eight in October 2020. 

Figure 3: Attractiveness of flexibility options (% Appealing)

Source: JLL Research

Office will be the primary place of work again

Long-lasting homeworking is hiding a heavy social and mental toll with at least one in two employees struggling to achieve boundaries and manage the mental load. Conversely, the office appears to be a tool to structure people’s lives. It offers social interaction opportunities and creates a more balanced working life, anchored in healthy routines, regular breaks and clearly defined working hours.

This is why office will again become the primary place of work – but on the condition that it upgrades to meet the new priorities of the workforce.