While both firms had not adopted the practice pre-COVID-19, leaders share how today, FWAs have not only allowed staff to plan out their tasks better, but also increased productivity overall.

The flexibility to work from anywhere you want, the choice to work staggered hours, flexible work schedules, and more – while organisations have always been aware of these concepts, it wasn’t until COVID-19 struck that a majority started implementing them.

And with that, companies are beginning to see the benefits of such flexible work arrangements (FWAs); for instance, an improvement in work-life harmony, increased staff engagement, and ultimately, higher productivity.

In this feature, leaders from H.U.A.Y Architects and Mogul, whose organisations had not formalised FWAs pre-COVID-19, share how they took the big leap, in conversations with the team at Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP).


CASE STUDY: H.U.A.Y Architects

Eric Huay Kwok Meng, Managing Director, H.U.A.Y Architects on how the transition to more extensive FWAs and digital cloud-based infrastructure, has allowed employees to manage both work and family/personal obligations with greater confidence.

Q How has your company benefitted from having FWAs in place during the pandemic?

H.U.A.Y Architects is a pro-family firm that recognises the importance of work-life harmony.

Prior to the adoption of FWAs in light of COVID-19, we offered some alternative work arrangements for staff with family obligations.

With the transition to more extensive FWAs and digital cloud-based infrastructure, our employees are now able to manage both work and family/personal obligations with greater confidence that FWAs are in fact a growing part of our work culture and will not be negatively perceived.

The adoption of FWAs has meant a fundamental shift in our company mindset – from the more traditional approach based on being present during and/or beyond fixed hours, to one that is more people- and task-oriented.

For example, telecommuting staff can take care of their children in between work tasks, while flexi-hours allow staff to accompany elderly parents or family members for medical appointments during what would otherwise be considered “typical” work hours. Employees with medical conditions that require regular visits to the doctor also have greater flexibility, and are no longer limited to scheduling treatment sessions on weekends or weekday evenings.

With all staff working from home during the Circuit Breaker, the benefits of this shift have become evident. As long as assigned tasks are completed, staff have the autonomy and flexibility to manage their schedules to meet family or personal needs. This is managed through the use of digital collaborative tools such as Microsoft Teams, which allows real-time collaboration and discussion between employees and external parties.

We trust that our staff remain productive outside the office, and we have been surprised and gratified by the level of dedication demonstrated. Over the past couple of months, we have observed increases in productivity and staff satisfaction.

Q What challenges did you come across when implementing these FWAs?

Over our course of implementing FWAs, we identified two key challenges:

  1. The substantial change in working methodology.
  2. The challenge of ensuring seamless digital connectivity across different platforms to minimise disruptions and frustration for staff.

As we encouraged the adoption of FWAs in the organisation, we saw there would have to be a substantial change in our working methodologies. To make the transition to telecommuting as smooth as possible, feedback was actively collected from all staff, and work processes revised accordingly. In-house workshops and training sessions were also conducted to educate and bring everyone up to speed on our new workflows.

We understood that it takes time, especially for senior employees, to adjust to the new working methods. Hence, we provided the necessary support, both online and offline, prior to the Circuit Breaker to ensure a smooth transition.

We trust that our staff remain productive outside the office, and have been surprised and gratified by the level of dedication demonstrated.

To facilitate full telecommuting, it was also critical for us to ensure that the hardware and digital solutions we procured were compatible and able to run seamlessly at maximum capacity. We also provided employees with the necessary IT equipment so they are able to work easily from home, which led to overall improvements to operational productivity.

Q Would you consider formalising FWAs after the COVID-19 situation has subsided, and why?

Yes. We formally adopted FWAs in accordance with TAFEP’s guidelines for the workplace during the Circuit Breaker, and will continue to advocate FWAs for better work-life harmony and greater adaptability. We believe that the post-COVID workplace model and design will be very different, and we are fully prepared to embrace these changes.

That said, we recognise that some processes are difficult to carry out via telecommuting, and that some staff may still prefer to work in the office. An ideal solution, ultimately, might be to give staff the freedom to choose a working arrangement that would best suit their needs.

Moving forward, we will continue to encourage FWAs and telecommuting to the maximum extent to safeguard the health and safety of our staff. We are actively exploring new work arrangements to meet the demands of the evolving workplace landscape. We believe that with the right tools and work processes, flexible working can greatly increase productivity and staff welfare, and will become widely practised in the long term.


CASE STUDY: Mogul

Charles Chia, Operations Director, Mogul, talks about the benefits he has observed since employees started working from home during the pandemic.

Q Before COVID-19, did your company formalise FWAs?

Before COVID-19, we did not adopt any FWAs. However, because of the industry we are in, we were already familiar with tools such as Zoom, Slack, Trello, Skype, etc.

Q How has your company then benefitted from having FWAs in place during the pandemic?

Prior to COVID-19, we already struggled to gather all staff together for regular meetings as people are all over the place – in meetings with vendors, customers, etc.

With work-from-home, everyone is able to manage their time and turn up for pre-scheduled department meetings.

Being able to work remotely greatly benefits our staff who have young families, and for them, having more time and a physical presence with their children and being safe gives them a greater peace of mind that has translated into a notable increase in productivity.

With work-from-home, everyone is able to manage their time and turn up for pre-scheduled department meetings.

Further, even staff who do not have family responsibilities find the time saved on commuting to work has freed up more time for them to clear more tasks.

Q What challenges did you come across when implementing these FWAs?

There was not much challenge for us as all the staff are tech-savvy. Our project management has been online with Trello since day one, and we often work collaboratively through video conferencing, so everyone is clear on their tasks and can indicate completed projects very easily.

Q Would you consider formalising FWAs after the COVID-19 situation has subsided, and why?

Yes, definitely. We are seeing more benefits in terms of productivity arising from staff who are more motivated when they are working with peace of mind, and have more time to explore and propose new ideas for the company.


Both H.U.A.Y Architects and Mogul are adopters of the Tripartite Standards (TS). The TS consists of a series of good employment practices that are important for all employers to implement and allows organisations to differentiate themselves as progressive employers. Visit tafep.sg to find out more about the Tripartite Standards.

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