Guide to hybrid working and its impact on the workforce in Singapore

As Singapore progresses with its COVID-19 regulations at Phase 2 ‘Heightened Alert’, many places around the globe are also experiencing second and third waves of infections. Our team took the chance to revisit the impact of flexibility and emergence of the concept model, ‘hybrid working’.

The country will shift from working-from-home as a default mode to a more “flexible and hybrid way” of working, announced co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force Lawrence Wong on Wednesday (Mar 24).

SThree Singapore is keen to bring together voices from different industries to understand the impact of these changes on the banking and life sciences space and the recruitment of talent.

We invited the following industry experts:

Joining us from our team is Tahmid Bin Zafar Senior Contracts Manager, and moderator, Pratyusha Vedala, Recruitment Consultant who shared some of the top trends they were seeing in the recruitment space.


What are some of the trends that we are seeing?

  • 76% of our business in 2020 was dedicated to contract placements globally
  • Locally, the no. of contracts placements has increased over the years. In 2020 alone, we witnessed an increase of 4% year on year instead of the usual 2% increase
  • An increase of female contractors by 9% year on year
  • Within our female contractors include returning-to-work mothers, those who were on sabbatical leave or those who may have been forced to opt for a career switch due to various reasons such as COVID-19
  • Our clients have put in conscious efforts & initiatives on their Diversity & Inclusion hires
  • The pandemic has also expedited digital transformation in many organisations across different industries
  • Recent news has shared that Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok have emerged as the top three cities with the most overworked populations in the world, Kisi's Global Work-Life Balance Index 2021 has shown. The ‘overworked populations' referred to full-time employees who work more than 48 hours in each working week, over the International Labour Organisation's recommendation of 40-hour workweeks. Flexibility and hybrid work models will need to be enhanced to improve these circumstances.



The gig economy is growing even faster than before, and flexibility has evolved into new ways of working – a hybrid model. If you have missed the session, below is a recording which you can view, along with key talking points summarised in the article below.


Workplace transformation due to the rise of the gig economy

André: In the financial services sector is it highly dependent on the type of company – traditional banks vs a surge in fintech companies today. There is quite an obvious distinction. Traditional firms are significantly impacted with a need to enforce processes digitally and electronically. Compared to fintech companies, everything is electronic to pass for instance KYC requirements, and you can be trading in 1-2days vs 3-4 months in a traditional bank.

Jack: There has been many changes and more companies will need to embrace virtual – even if it means to sign documents, contracts, and onboarding. It is a different experience altogether as a candidate when you need to prepare for interviews. This is the time where we need to learn new skills to present ourselves even better – virtually.

Tahmid: Companies require agility and the right tools to enforce a digital workplace. The more agility companies can apply, the better the integration of gig workers. This will transform and accelerate the gig economy even more – with or without the ongoing pandemic.


Defining flexibility in the workplace and what are the different types of flexibility

André: Everyone is different and we have different home circumstances. For me, my most productive time is from 6am - 10am. I get some downtime in the middle of the day, before getting back at it later in the day. You could also be working in the night which gives us more chance to be available online to meet the needs of colleagues we have around the world.  

Jack: Face to face interactions are still essential by tradition. During this time, everyone is online and cost is also reduced from travelling overseas to meet clients. Time is also saved to do meetings with regulators online. All you need is a handy camera to highlight onsite manufacturing sites to conduct audits on-the-go.  

Tahmid: There is a huge investment in social capital, especially in a sales environment. Having people around you physically allow for meaningful relationships – and we underestimated the privilege of this. On the flipside, what flexibility has allowed for us to do is to allocate our hours better to be productive. Ultimately there needs to be a balance, along with the trust that you build with your managers.


Is Hybrid Working the way of the future?

Jack: We are aligning with the government’s regulations. A combination of working both at home and in the office allows for a good chemistry to reap benefits on both ends. To make this work, you will need to make sure the company enforces it together. We will also need to rethink the office environment in terms of size – organisations may not need a large office when we have split teams.

André: Enforcing hybrid working comes with some caveats. Operational tasks may require us to be in office to ensure efficiency. If you are writing a whitepaper – might be easier to work from home. What we need is discipline to plan your workload and schedule. It requires an increase in skillset in terms of management. We need to concentrate on the downstream effects – if there is an increased focus on working from home, what impact will this bring to the CBD? Will it lead to an erosion of the space?

Tahmid: For a lot of companies we recruited for in the past, many were not agile enough due to traditionalist mindsets, especially for new starters. However, with the added flexibility and ability to work in a hybrid manner, this has brought about a positive shift especially with talent who are open to the current roles available. Nonetheless, there is no perfect model for every organisation. It relies heavily on the management team to execute, and the responsibility of the individual.


Still curious about the future post-pandemic ways of working?

Watch the full session above or contact our dedicated contract team through the form below to evaluate your hiring strategies today. If you are looking for a job within the contract space to reap the benefits of a hybrid workforce, check out our latest opportunities here.


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Whether you’re a professional looking for a job or a business seeking highly skilled talent, the team at Real is here for you.

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