Working patterns are becoming more flexible across the world, with the US and Australia leading the way, while businesses in Singapore have been the slowest to adopt new ways of working, according to new research, The Modern Workplace 2018: People, Places & Technology, by software company Condeco.
The workplace is shifting towards more flexible and remote working, with staff spending more time working from home, on the move or from multiple locations. In two fifths of businesses surveyed, the majority of staff work flexibly at least some of the time. This figure is highest in the US (52 per cent) and Australia (43 per cent).
Although Singapore companies are more likely than average to offer flexible working, the proportion of the workforce that works flexibly is lower than elsewhere. In Singapore, three per cent of companies don’t offer flexible working at all, compared with seven per cent globally. However, worldwide 40 per cent of those surveyed said over half of their workforce works flexibly at least some of the time. In Singapore, that proportion was 31 per cent, suggesting that flexible working has not advanced as far in Singapore as in some countries.
The research also found that the Millennial generation, born between 1983 and 2000, have shaped the workplace to meet their needs. That means a space that is more open plan, with fewer barriers between desks and multi-disciplinary teams working together in 'pods'.
Sixty-nine per cent of those surveyed said they work in open plan, or mostly open plan, offices. This arrangement was most common in Australia (84 per cent) and least common in Singapore (60 per cent), where working arrangements remain somewhat traditional, compared with other nations.
This marks a significant change from previous generations, for example the cubicle office of Generation X or the personal offices of the Baby Boomers. The oldest members of Generation Z - born between the mid-1990s and 2000s - are now entering the workforce and they will likely move further towards flexibility, remote worker, and cross-functional teams with less hierarchy.
"This report demonstrates how the modern workplace is changing," said Peter Otto, Product Strategy and Design Director at Condeco. “Flexbility and remote working are increasingly important to today's workers. Singapore has been slow to adjust to these changes and that could hold back companies that are trying to recruit the best international talent or collaborate with firms abroad.”
The shift to flexible and remote working puts more emphasis on meetings to coordinate teams, who may be spread across a wide area but still need to be in close communication. This is highlighted by the report finding that workers are more likely to feel that there are too few meetings, rather than too many.
Two-fifths of business leaders worldwide report an increase in video conference meetings, as teams coordinate over long distances. Of respondents in Singapore, 54 per cent said they had seen an increase in video conferences - almost double the figure for Australia (28 per cent) and higher than the US (47 per cent).
Just over one in 10 (12 per cent) said the quality of meetings should be better. That sentiment was strongest in Australia (20 per cent), while Germans (6 per cent) and those in Singapore (9 per cent) were least likely to be dissatisfied with meeting quality.
Globally, 10 per cent of business leaders said they only have access to a suitable meeting room sometimes or rarely. The situation was worst in the UK (14 per cent) and France (12 per cent) and best in Germany (7 per cent) and Singapore (9 per cent).
"Meetings have a bad reputation as time-wasters but it's important that companies understand that this is not necessarily the case. Effective collaboration is essential for the success of every organisation." said Otto. "To remain effective, modern companies must ensure that they commit to providing a variety of spaces to help their teams communicate and collaborate, along with a fast and efficient way to find and reserve space, at any time, on any device.”
Re-disseminated by The Asian Banker