SINGAPORE: The world is likely to see a hybrid work model post-COVID-19, Zoom Video Communications' chief executive Eric Yuan said on Tuesday (Aug 25).
The founder of the video conferencing platform, which has become a household name since the start of the pandemic as workers telecommute and people socialise virtually, said that solely working from home is unlikely because the model is unsustainable.
“It does bring us some other challenges like mental health,” said Mr Yuan, who was speaking at a virtual conference organised by the Singapore Institute of Directors.
He was responding to a question on whether the world would see a hollowing out of central business districts - something which Mr Yuan said is still too early to tell, although he personally thinks that more organisations will embrace remote work.
“I think a hybrid, I think that’s a future, and I think almost every organisation they got to embrace that - give employees flexibility," he said.
“Meaning, some days, you work in office, some days you work at home, or maybe (you) give employees (a) choice; they can work from home if they want, because technology is ready.”
Productivity also improves when people work from home, and such work arrangements are better for the climate, he added.
Zoom currently has a market capitalisation of around US$80 billion (S$109.5 billion) and offices or data centres in 18 cities worldwide, including one in Singapore.
Other speakers at the event shared the same sentiments as Mr Yuan.
During a panel discussion, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore’s chief executive Lew Chuen Hong said that “working from the go” will be the trend going forward, especially as Singapore has invested heavily in its broadband capabilities.
But some work will still require a certain amount of face-to-face time, he said.
“There is a recognition (that for) creative aspects, human-to-human interactions are important,” Mr Lew said, adding that technology is still not at the level where it can provide “more high-touch ability to interact, to do these elements”.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah, who was the event’s guest-of-honour, said businesses have no choice but to adapt to a hybrid work model going forward.
At the same time, companies must demonstrate empathy and understanding in managing their employees’ morale and mental health as such working arrangements are rolled out, she said.
BE READY TO CHANGE
Ms Indranee, who is also Second Minister for Finance and National Development, said that the pandemic has reminded companies they must remain nimble and ready to adapt to changes - from accepting that they must digitalise, to diversifying supply chains in view of COVID-19 disruptions.
“Be creative, and be open-minded, as you consider ways that your businesses can adapt or be reinvented to pivot into new markets and products,” she said.
COVID-19 has created some opportunities for companies to expand, said Mr Lew. There are new markets to explore through e-commerce, employees who work remotely they can hire, and projects from overseas they can work on in Singapore.
Singapore Tourism Board’s chief executive Keith Tan said that COVID-19 has compelled tourism players to quickly offer virtual experiences - something they did in three months that would have taken them 10 years.
“And they found that it’s actually not too difficult, and it has been very useful in helping them to engage a large audience, both locally as well as internationally,” Mr Tan said, citing the example of the Singapore Food Festival, which had online masterclasses with chefs and food deliveries from which participants could learn to put a dish together.
But being adaptable is not just about going digital, Mr Tan added.
“You can reimagine the way you deliver your product, you can reimagine the way you create experiences that appeal to people, maybe (be) minded to have smaller groups (or) much more concerned about health and safety and wellness,” he said.