S'pore public servants encouraged to return to office 3 days a week as WFH measures ease

This will take effect from April 5.

Jason Fan | March 28, 2021, 12:49 PM

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The Singapore government is encouraging public servants who can work from home to return to the office three out of five working days as a general guideline, The Straits Times (ST) reported.

This shift towards a hybrid work mode comes after the announcement of the general easing of Covid-19 measures in the workplace, which would allow more people to return to their offices to work.

Changes will take effect from April 5

On Mar. 24, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that Singapore will shift from working from home by default, to a more flexible and hybrid working arrangement.

This change, which will take effect from April 5, means that up to 75 per cent of the employees who are presently able to work from home can now be at the workplace at any one time, up from the current 50 per cent.

The current cap on the time an employee spends at the workplace will also be lifted.

Split team arrangements will not be mandatory, although companies may continue to adopt such arrangements if they wish.

However, the Public Service Division told The Sunday Times that officers whose agencies allow them to work from home for more than two days a week can continue to do so, even after April 5.

The government will also encourage staggered hours and hybrid ways of working where possible, to reduce travel on public transport during peak hours.

According to ST, there are about 153,000 public officers, and public transport ridership is expected to rise with more workers returning to the office.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said that from Mar. 8 - 12, 2021, ridership was about 74 per cent of pre-Covid-19 levels.

The number of commuters tapping out at CBD (Central Business District) MRT stations has also been relatively low, at 40 per cent of the usual number.

One year of working from home

Working from home has been the default since April 2020, when circuit breaker measures were implemented.

While it was the first time for many to experience working from home, a survey conducted found that eight in 10 employees wished to continue working from home, at least some of the time, after circuit breaker was over.

Towards the end of May 2020, co-chair of the Covid-19 Multi-Ministerial Task Force (MTF) Lawrence Wong stressed that most of Singapore's workforce should continue to work from home even after circuit breaker ends, telling Singaporeans to "embrace working from home as the new norm".

By January 2021, although Singapore entered Phase 3, business were still advised to ensure that working from home remained the default setting.

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