Fri, Nov 13, 2020 – 2:23 PM
IN a move to boost mental well-being, the majority of UOB’s 26,000-strong workforce will have the option to work remotely two days a week once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, announced the bank on Friday.
This comes as a Gartner study found that two days of remote working a week has been found to be the “maximum for employees to maintain a sense of connection with colleagues and the company” as well as to achieve optimal performance, said UOB.
This followed a six-month review of work patterns, workspaces and workforce technology tools, where 65 per cent of bank roles – all of which are non customer-facing – were assessed to be suited to working remotely.
The move is in line with broader community sentiment, where an earlier UOB study found that 80 per cent of people across Asean said they wanted some form of flexible work arrangement from their employer.
The bank took in feedback from its employees across its global network on the strains of having their homes turned into their offices during Covid-19. During the peak of the pandemic, while 85 per cent of them reported to be as effective while working from home, 15 per cent said they faced stress-inducing challenges.
These stresses included trying to balance family and professional commitments, increased working hours from an “always on” mentality and difficulty in nurturing teamwork and collaboration online.
Dean Tong, UOB’s head of group human resources, said that the bank believes that the future of the workplace is a hybrid one where employees choose how to manage their work commitments based on the space and place they can be most effective.
“Working from home during Covid-19 has been instructive due to the speed and intensity of the change but we must look beyond the present and define a future of work that is more sustainable,” he said.
“This hybrid approach will require some adjustments and we are committed to providing our people with the required resources and support during the transitionary period.”
In addition to its remote work options, the bank already offers all employees an additional two hours a month off to attend to personal matters during the working day. Employees will also be able to avail themselves of the bank’s staggered start times – in Singapore for example, they can choose to begin their workday between 7am and 10am based on their preferred work styles.
To support its remote work options, UOB will accelerate its infrastructure improvement plan, which sets out the new office standards that will be used across the region.
This will enable more agile team-based work and deeper collaboration across different functions, said the bank.
In Singapore, the bank will set up new social spaces in prime locations for its employees to meet and to unwind. For example, at Boat Quay, it has converted an office into a clubhouse for collaboration and recreational activities. It will be opened when Covid-19 safe-distancing measures are eased.
When contacted by The Business Times, both DBS and OCBC said they already have some form of flexible work arrangements in place. A DBS spokesperson said: “Over the past few months, our hybrid work arrangements have proven to be seamless and effective. We expect these working arrangements to continue in the future.”
Jason Ho, head of group human resources at OCBC, said that the bank has been “agile” in the way it introduced new initiatives and measures to transform the way employees work, taking into account staff’s preferences, as well as their physical, emotional and mental well-being.
“We will continue to do so as the situation progresses, so that we can constantly be ready for the ‘next normal’ and improve the way we engage our customers as well as our employees,” he said.