Nov 05, 2013

    Firms 'don't walk the talk' for flexi-work

    COMPANIES here like the idea of flexible work arrangements. But, when it comes to putting them into practice, many get cold feet.

    "The fear about the execution - whether there is going to be a negative impact or a backlash - is what paralyses any execution," said Employer Alliance chairman Claire Chiang. She was speaking on the sidelines of the Work-Life Conference 2013 held yesterday.

    On a scale of one to 10, Ms Chiang said companies in Singapore would score a nine on how receptive they were to the idea of work-life flexibility.

    However, she said companies here would score around a four in terms of the implementation and execution of those work-life-balance ideas.

    She also noted that schemes such as flexible maternity and paternity leave, and staggered work hours - where not all employees arrive at or leave work at the same time - are common.

    But others, like telecommuting - a work arrangement that allows employees to work from home or other locations - are not, she said. This is due to the importance placed on face time - seeing people at work - said Ms Chiang.

    "But I think it is going to change with higher office cost, traffic congestion and new technology," she said.

    Over 400 participants attended the conference held at Concorde Hotel.

    Ms Cali Yost - a work-life-strategy expert and the conference's keynote speaker - said that, while employers have to make the first move to offer work-life flexibility, employees have to "meet them halfway".

    They must work with their managers to devise solutions that suit both them and the business, she explained.

    Ms Yost has over two decades of experience in her field and has worked with organisations such as Ernst & Young and Novo Nordisk.

    She said the trick to get more organisations on board is to get them to try out pilot flexibility schemes.

    She suggested they try the schemes in a very isolated way, so that they will understand that they make things better.