Angela Cai, Concept Folks
The onslaught of the events of 2020 has been extremely tough for many of us, and yet, life must go on. With the opening of businesses and workplaces, tasks such as commuting or socialising with our coworkers may be perceivably more difficult than it once was, and the feeling of anxiety or stress at the prospect of returning to working life once more may be overwhelming. In fact, these feelings may be more common than you think - an article recently released by the Straits Times shows that 8 in 10 Singaporeans wish to work from home or have more flexibility in their working schedule , with concerns about commuting and catching COVID-19 being some of the top concerns adding to the stress of returning to work.
As such stress and worries begin to build up, this may lead to more harmful mental conditions such as chronic stress or depression. WebMD mentions that those who are more susceptible, whether chronically stressed or not, may develop depression more easily .This is because the physical effects of stress are an increase in stress hormones such as cortisol, and a decrease in serotonin and dopamine - hormones that regulate biological processes, a deficit of which may result in depression.
What can be a light amidst the darkness is that we, as Singaporeans, are experiencing this re-adjustment together during this pandemic. In particular, NAS Workplaces is here to provide you with a shared space to reorientate yourself in the new normal; a fun and fresh way to adapt once more to socialising and work stress. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to improve your mental resilience this year:
1. Share Your Workspace
NAS Workplaces offers co-working spaces for you to find some enjoyment in doing your work. Though work can seem endlessly repetitive or stressful, co-working spaces help to break up the mundane quality of work by providing a number of benefits and ways to relieve stress. With co-working spaces, individuals can find the opportunity to network with fellow entrepreneurs, use the features available at the space to de-stress , and take advantage of the productive atmosphere generated from the others working around you to motivate you. Co-working spaces can help regulate workplace stress and provide a way to make work more interesting and livelier, helping to break up routines or manage work we might previously have been inundated with.
2. Listen to and Name Your Fears
Though we can’t always control the external world, listening to our inner voice and needs can be especially important when easing ourselves back into routine. With strong emotions oftentimes comes the inability to speak or make good decisions, and psychiatrist Dr Daniel Siegel coined the phrase “Name it to tame it” to describe a method of dealing with such emotions in a productive and helpful manner. It involves describing or naming strong emotional reactions whenever one is in a high-stress situation. In doing so, this allows the executive part of your brain to take over and mediate the situation and your reaction more rationally. This allows you to re-empower yourself by recollecting yourself enough to be able to choose how to respond to stress. This can also be used to identify prospective causes of stress and allow you to plan ways to respond in a healthy manner, especially in identify triggers that indicate that a microbreak during your work day may be helpful.
3. Talk About It
Oftentimes, we become so wrapped up in our own worries and concerns that we do not realise others around us are experiencing similar troubles or unique worries of their own. Just as we would show ourselves compassion when managing our own challenges, it is important to keep in mind that others are struggling as well. Having empathy and understanding for others can help their well-being, and also encourage a mutual relationship of support and trust - communicating your struggles can be the first step to a more supportive workplace culture, whether it be to a fellow colleague or your superior.
4. Take it Slow
Instead of jumping back into work expecting to be at your best and feeling disappointed when you find that you still have trouble keeping focused, or feeling too overwhelmed with work, set achievable daily targets that you aim to complete as priorities. This will help you to manage work in a structured manner that ensures performance and completion with intention, rather than wasting effort worrying about uncompleted or interrupted tasks. By giving priority to specific tasks, such as setting a “Big 5 Tasks of the Day”, this can help your brain focus better on the objectives. In completing the tasks that you set for yourself, the sense of accomplishment can also help to increase your motivation and job satisfaction.
Back to the Beginning
Though these tips are definitely not a cure-all, they can be a good place to start when figuring out how to tackle troublesome or worrying emotions and situations. From communicating with your colleagues to taking time off and working in a new, fresh environment, these tips can help you to regain focus and develop the mental resilience needed to ride out any other challenges 2020 might bring.
Lee Siqi, Concept Folks
Covid-19 has not only crippled global healthcare systems, it has also caused severe disruptions to global economies. We are experiencing an economic recession that is unprecedented in nature. Today, over 4 million people have been infected by Covid-19 globally, and hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost to the virus. With no end to Covid-19 in sight, global supply chains have been left paralyzed and helpless to the forces of nature.
In order to tide through these disruptions, businesses and individuals need to be able to adapt the changing economic landscape, and seek out new opportunities both at home and abroad.
In an article by the Straits Times, Chairman of NTUitive, Mr Inderjit Singh, remarked that it may take at least a couple of years to recover from the global economic damage. He added that businesses should plan for a 50% to 80% drop in demand for the next one to two years.
Singapore is heavily reliant on its global economic trade ties. We may suffer our worst recession this year since independence, as the global economy takes its biggest hit since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The coronavirus pandemic has also brought about numerous business and lifestyle changes that may eventually become part of the new normal. Mr Singh added that changes such as working from home and the increase in technology adoption are some of the areas where businesses and individuals will have to adapt to.
In addition, businesses must also look into cost reduction strategies in order to maintain a healthy balance sheet. All aspects of cost reduction need to be considered. This includes taking full advantage of government assistance schemes, re-negotiating payment terms with vendors, and working out a survival plan with employees.
3 ways to keep your businesses sustainable throughout this crisis
1. Government Aid for SMEs
Having been through SARS and the financial downturn that followed it in 2003, the Singapore government and different financial institutions have responded promptly with different financial schemes to support the economy through Covid-19.
There are plenty of financial schemes available for SMEs. For instance, the Ministry of Finance’s Wage Credit Scheme (WCS) will co-fund 15% of qualifying wage increases given in 2019, 2018 and 2017 to more than 700,000 Singaporean employees earning gross monthly wages of up to S$4,000. SMEs do not have to apply for the WCS, but will require a GIRO or PayNow Corporate account in order to receive the funds.
In addition, the first government stimulus package also provides subsidies for 8% of wages 3 months under its Job Support Scheme.
Be sure to make full use of the financial schemes available to help your business and employees survive the crisis.
2. Adopt Cost Cutting Measures
As the economic outlook remains uncertain for the next few years, businesses have to adopt cost cutting measures in order to save on unnecessary expenditure and to maintain a healthy balance sheet at the end of the day.
During this pandemic, flexible work arrangements are becoming a norm. Having large offices became less of a necessity but more of a liability. Moreover, office rent is a huge expense, and saving on rental fees will help to cut costs during this period.
Rather than renting out a traditional office space, more businesses are considering coworking spaces as a viable solution. Coworking spaces provide companies with greater pricing flexibility, as they can commit to monthly leases rather than yearly leases.
While it is difficult to commit to a traditional 3 to 5 year office lease now, a 1 month or 6 month coworking plan helps businesses to achieve greater savings. They also can save on other office setup costs such as construction, utility bills, maintenance fees, network installation fees and others.
Furthermore, coworking spaces can help businesses with their social distancing needs, as they can now split their teams into different work locations to prevent working in the same common space. For instance, coworking space NAS Workplaces is designed with private rooms, which businesses can use to separate teams from each other.
Coworking spaces will continue to grow, as they offer a unique way to optimize space for everyone. With the rise in flexible work arrangements, some landlords are even considering partnering with a coworking space operator to implement their flexible workplace arrangements into an existing office.
SMEs looking to reduce rental costs should consider a coworking space which enables them to have a professional workspace, while enjoying the flexible work and pricing plans.
3. Implement Employee Training & Development
SMEs that are experiencing reduced business demands can make full use of this time to reskill their employees. Sending employees on training programs can ensure that they will stay competitive and relevant when the economy recovers.
There are plenty of training programs available in Singapore that teach different business functions. The Workforce Singapore (WSG) has also implemented The Adapt & Grow programme to provide wage subsidies and training support for businesses.
WSG is also working with the Singapore Economic Development Board, Enterprise Singapore and the Supply Chain & Logistics Academy to introduce a three month redeployment programme for rank-and-file supply chain and logistics employees to reskill and prepare them for industry upheavals.
Are you looking beyond Covid?
Experts have warned that it will take a couple of years before our global economies can recover from the losses incurred during this Covid-19 pandemic. Businesses have to be prepared for the world beyond Covid-19. That not only includes keeping business costs low, but embracing new trends that will continue to shape the future of work.
Flexible working arrangement and an increase in digitalisation are two major areas that businesses should look into to better streamline their costs and optimize their businesses for the post-covid world.
Jinghui, Concept Folks
Staying COVID-safe post-circuit breaker has been top of mind as Singapore progresses through a phased reopening. Even as community cases decline, many businesses who have begun resuming economic activities have stepped up safe management measures – to comply with local regulations and reduce risk of transmission.
The new normal is one where consistent sanitation and social distancing will be required, and restrictions maintained on the size of public gatherings. For most businesses, that means telecommuting (work- from-home) will be encouraged to the maximum, and office workers who do return to the workplace will have to adhere to strict social distancing measures. – in a world where said connection is forbidden.
As we can only speculate the future, flexibility and versatility at the workplace will be more important than ever. Here’s why we think flexible working is here to stay:
Facing a new normal, the industry is projected to survive, even thrive, as the crisis has amplified a business need for flexibility and agility in adapting to changes. In an uncertain world, co-working spaces are a viable future.