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Yeo Wan Ling: Flexible work arrangements are vital for caregivers and companies

The NTUC Assistant Secretary-General visited AsiaOne Online to learn how flexible work arrangements have helped their employees better manage work and caregiving responsibilities.

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By Nicolette Yeo 31 Jan 2024
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As the director of digital campaign management at AsiaOne Online, Tracy Loh’s work schedule keeps her busy enough.


Yet, as a working caregiver, she must also look after her child, who is in Secondary Two, and support her siblings in caring for her elderly parents.


Fortunately, the 46-year-old can take up to 12 flexible workdays monthly to attend to her caregiving responsibilities.


“It gives me more flexibility in handling family and work [responsibilities]. The work-life balance is there, and I’m quite happy.


“We can communicate [with colleagues] through Zoom or attend online meetings with our colleagues. Productivity is still there, and there is flexibility in managing the work, and we can hit our KPI targets,” shared Tracy.


Tracy is one of the staff in AsiaOne who benefits from the company's progressive flexible work arrangements (FWA).


Managing work and caregiving responsibilities with FWA better reinforces that such arrangements are crucial to keeping caregivers in the workforce.


“With a very rapidly ageing community, there will be more and more people who need balance when it comes to work and caregiving responsibilities.


“I think it is not sustainable to keep asking for more leave – it’s not productive for the employer and the workers … so I think that flexible work arrangements are one of the most sustainable ways to look at this [balancing work and caregiving],” said NTUC Assistant Secretary-General and NTUC U Women and Family (U WAF) Director Yeo Wan Ling.


Ms Yeo, also the Tripartite Workgroup on Flexible Work Arrangements Co-Chair, was speaking at a visit to AsiaOne on 31 January 2024 to learn how the company’s FWA is benefiting its workers and the organisation.


She cited various surveys with caregivers and seniors that pointed to FWA as a crucial factor for them to stay in the labour force.


AsiaOne’s best practices


The online media company has implemented a slew of FWA to help their employees succeed in managing work and caregiving responsibilities.


For starters, AsiaOne’s confirmed employees have six FWA days every month.


Meanwhile, parents with children up to the age of 18 members receive up to three additional FWA days. Caregivers with elderly or disabled family members also have up to three additional FWA days.


The company is also supportive of staff who wish to upgrade their skills. Employees enrolled in an institute of higher learning, private education institute or government-accredited course under SkillsFuture can take up to one FWA day per month and up to two additional days in months when a major assignment is due.


Welfare is also a focus— staff who are menstruating or attending high-key in-camp training of at least eight days can take up to two days per month.


Other arrangements include flexi-time, where staff have the flexibility to augment their work hours, and flexi-load, where staff can opt for shorter hours or part-time work.


AsiaOne Chief Executive Officer Sean Ler said that the whole motivation behind the FWA is to look after the welfare of their staff, many of whom are young, about to get married and may have kids soon.


“You can’t be everywhere and do everything all at once, so the only way is to empower and trust [your employees],” he said.


He added that the company focuses on goal setting to encourage employees to perform well and maintain staff productivity.


“At the end of every performance appraisal season, it’s also a goal-setting exercise. So, in terms of your outcomes, your personal development, and your professional development.


“At the end of the day, we can’t run away. If you’ve achieved it, you’ve achieved it,” he said.


Mr Ler also suggested that employers facing challenges in FWA implementation embrace technology and change their mindset.


AsiaOne recently formed a Company Training Committee with NTUC. It works closely with its union, the Creative Media and Publishing Union, to upskill its workforce, enhance productivity, and explore job redesign opportunities.


The company also participates in NTUC U WAF’s Better Workplace Campaign, which recognises and showcases progressive employers who commit to creating better workplaces with FWA, work-life harmony practices and a managing workplace harassment policy.


Tripartite Guidelines on FWA


Tripartite Workgroup representatives, including Senior Minister of State for Education and Manpower Gan Siow Huang and Singapore National Employers Federation Honorary Secretary Edwin Ng, also attended the visit.


The event is part of the Tripartite Workgroup’s engagement with workers and employers ahead of the Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangement Requests. It included a tour of AsiaOne and a sharing session on its FWA best practices.


“The tripartite partners – the Singapore National Employers Federation, National Trades Union Congress, and the Ministry of Manpower – have been working very hard to form a workgroup to develop this set of Tripartite Guidelines on Flexible Work Arrangements Requests.


"As part of the work of the TWG [Tripartite Workgroup], we want to learn from companies out there, including yours, and also to hear some suggestions and ideas on how to enable more workplaces to implement FWAs,” said Ms Gan.


Visit NTUC U WAF to learn more about their work-life harmony initiatives.