Deputy President (Administration) Mr Clarence Ti waving to the online audience before the start of the townhall.

Co-creating a workplace of the future

A new series of townhalls was launched on 10 March, aimed to engage the NUS community to gather thoughtful inputs and generate ideas to reimagine and co-create the workplace of the future for NUS.

Over 1,700 NUS staff gathered in-person at UTown Auditorium 2 and online over Zoom and Mediaweb for the first in the series, “Preparing for a Workplace of the Future”.

Outlining his thoughts for this approach, Mr Clarence Ti, Deputy President (Administration), said, “This workplace will become a reality not by a sudden change, but likely through an evolution...To that end, we are starting a series of conversations where we want to hear from you, what questions you have, what would appeal to you, what would be good. Your voice is important to us. We also want these townhalls to increasingly be forums where we can listen and co-create this workplace of the future, refresh policies, and share best practices and plans.” 

Prior to the townhall, staff had been invited to participate in an online survey about their preferred work arrangements, adjustments needed to return to campus, and their assessment of the team’s readiness for long-term flexible work arrangements. Director of the Organisational Excellence Transformation Unit (OETU), Mr Roy Tan, shared the key findings.

Over 3,000 staff, or one in every four staff, responded to the survey. Out of these, 89 per cent felt that their job scopes allowed them to work from home, and 1,500 indicated a preference for hybrid working arrangements. The most popular arrangement was for two to three days of working from home. Respondents felt that productivity could be equally achieved both from working from home or in the office.

The survey also uncovered that while 60 per cent of respondents who were reporting managers felt that they were ready to transition their team towards flexible working arrangements, others were less ready and expressed concerns due to their business needs. With this in mind, DPA sharing about NUS’ Back to Office Guidance, emphasised that arrangements would first be aligned with the national posture. HoDs and Deans would then be empowered to adopt the arrangements that best suit the business needs of their units.

townhall-collage_11406x641 (From left to right: Associate Professor Benjamin Ong, Mr Roy Tan, Mr Clarence Ti, Mr Kevin Chua, Ms Katherine Koh)

The inaugural dialogue invited experts such as Associate Professor Benjamin Ong, Senior Vice President (Health Education and Resources) and Chair of the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination, to give an update on the COVID-19 situation. Mr Kevin Chua, Chief People Officer, shared about NUS’ flexible work arrangement policy and the accompanying key guidance, and Ms Katherine Koh, Organisational Psychologist, gave an overview of the WellNUS© Workplace Mental Health Framework developed by the NUS Health & Wellbeing unit.

More than 90 questions were posed to the panel, ranging from concerns about the nuances of the Flexible Work Arrangement policy, the support given to staff with the variety of different work arrangements across NUS, as well as the infrastructure needed to facilitate hybrid modes of working.

Highlights from the inaugural session, key survey findings and other information have been compiled in the Sway presentation which would be updated bi-annually. Further sessions will be organised every four months and may be thematically focused to facilitate discussions on specific topics. Do look out for email invitations to these sessions soon.

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