3 April 2012 - In a move towards encouraging employers to adopt flexible working arrangements through the use of infocomm technology, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has launched a Call-for-Collaboration (CFC) to invite industry players to collaborate and conduct pilots in the areas of home-based work and setting up of Smart Work Centres.
Singapore, 3 April 2012 | For Immediate Release
Industry invited to develop a suite of ICT services to support flexible working arrangements
Several economic and social benefits to having flexible work arrangements
In a move towards encouraging employers to adopt flexible working arrangements through the use of infocomm technology, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has launched a Call-for-Collaboration (CFC) to invite industry players to collaborate and conduct pilots in the areas of home-based work and setting up of Smart Work Centres.
This call is made under the Next Generation Services Innovation Programme (NGSIP) and is developed in consultation with Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS), Ministry of Manpower (MOM), Employer Alliance (EA), National Trades Union Congress - Women's Development Secretariat (NTUC WDS) and Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF). It is a follow-up to one of the key recommendations by the Tripartite Workgroup on ICT-enabled Home-based Jobs - comprising representatives from IDA, MOM and the industry - to set up a dedicated workspace at home to ensure that home-based employees1 have a professional work environment to be productive. An alternative option is to enable employees to work at Smart Work Centres to provide for a professional work environment near homes if a dedicated workspace is not available or viable at home.
Besides bringing together like-minded players within the infocomm industry and user enterprises, IDA and its partners hope this CFC will heighten awareness and acceptance amongst employers in bringing work closer to homes and the community.
There are several benefits to home-based work and/or working at Smart Work Centres. At the national level, some 7 in 10 of the more than 258,000 economically inactive residents in the prime working age of 25 to 54 cited family commitments as the main reason for not working2, and such flexible working arrangements could increase employment opportunities for those seeking to join the workforce. For employers, flexible work arrangements can contribute to better staff attraction and retention as well as improved productivity and enhanced access to a larger manpower pool that includes economically inactive persons. To employees, the reduction in commuting time to and from the office can contribute towards better work-life harmony, improve their level of engagement and focus on work and productivity.
The enhancement in infocomm infrastructure and ensuing services, and the widespread use of computers and broadband are now making the possibility of flexible work arrangements more viable than before. The nationwide deployment of Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (Next Gen NBN) also makes implementing home-based work and Smart Work Centres more attractive as the network offers pervasive, affordable broadband connection that supports major office functions such as high quality video-conferencing and cloud computing.
Acknowledging the benefits of having the right infocomm infrastructure, IDA's Mr Khoong Hock Yun, Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Infrastructure and Services Development Group, said, "The Next Gen NBN will take the concept of working from home one step further by opening up new opportunities in the area of home-based work and Smart Work Centres. With the network, similar functions within the office environment can be supported at home. But having a capable infrastructure is not the end-all answer - we still need to have processes in place and a mindset change to encourage the adoption of home-based work and Smart Work Centres. This is why we have decided to embark on this CFC so that everyone from the government, unions and industry can come together to explore how we can bring work closer to home and the community a reality."
Partnering agencies MCYS, MOM, EA, NTUC WDS and SNEF are equally excited at the opportunities presented by the CFC.
"MCYS believes in supporting families by equipping employees with skills to exercise control over how they work and live," said Ms Pauline Mo, Deputy Director for Family Education at MCYS. "Research has found that those with work-life harmony are more likely to enjoy their work, have better family relationships and enjoy a better quality of life. Both the employer and the individual have a role to play to make work-life harmony a reality. 'Flexibility' is key to supporting them achieve work-life success. We are excited about this initiative that would allow employees flexibility to work from the convenience of their home or work near home."
"With the tight labour market, employers who face challenges in attracting and retaining their workers should consider alternative ways of organising their business processes and work arrangements. Through this pilot, MOM and our partnering agencies hope to be able to provide a new approach for employers and employees seeking to reap the benefits of flexible work arrangements," said Mr Then Yee Thoong, Divisional Director, Labour Relations and Workplaces, Ministry of Manpower.
Ms Cynthia Cheong, Director for Work-Life at EA said, "Home-based work and Smart Work Centres enable employers to augment their manpower by attracting potential talent in the workforce and also realise the numerous related business benefits such as savings in business costs, and increased employee engagement."
"The home-based work and work centre certainly give employers and employees another option to flexible work arrangements which NTUC WDS is actively promoting. With this infrastructure, not only can workers work from home or near their homes, they can also stagger their working hours and do not need to rush with the office crowd to take the public transport. This arrangement is also friendly towards our female workers who may need to take care of their children and families and at the same time, allows them to work and contribute to the economy," said Ms Sylvia Choo, Director, NTUC WDS.
Mr Stephen Yee, Assistant Executive Director of SNEF said, "With advances in ICT technologies employers can look at home-based and work centres employees as an extension of the workplace and the company. Home-based work will also address the needs of employees for work-life balance. In an increasingly tight labour market, this will be a win-win situation for both employees and employers."
Industry players and employers that are interested in the CFC are invited to attend a briefing session held on 10 April 2012. More details on the CFC will be provided at the briefing. Participants can also leverage on the session to network with like-minded companies to collaborate and submit proposals for this CFC. For more information on the CFC briefing session, please visit www.NextGenNBN.gov.sg or drop an email to email@example.com.
ISSUED BY CORPORATE AND MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS DIVISION
INFOCOMM DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE
- Document on Pilots for Home-based Work and Smart Work Centre Call-for-Collaboration
Notes to Editor:
1 In home-based work, an employee's home is the primary location of work, and returning to office is required occasionally only. This arrangement is different from telecommuting where the office remains the primary work location.
2 MOM Labour Force Survey 2011.
3 According to IDA's 2010 Annual Survey on Infocomm Usage in Households and by Individuals, 84% of households have access to at least one computer at home while 82% have access to broadband.
About Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore
The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) is committed to growing Singapore into a dynamic global infocomm hub. IDA uses an integrated approach to developing infocommunications in Singapore. This involves nurturing a competitive telecoms market as well as a conducive business environment with programmes and schemes for both local and international companies. For more news and information, visit www.ida.gov.sg.
For media clarification, please contact:
For queries on the CFC, please contact:
* IDA will stop responding to queries on the CFC after 28 May 2012.