Model ID: 9908e7e5-9e9a-48ba-9f44-19f5a7e46b31 Sitecore Context Id: 9908e7e5-9e9a-48ba-9f44-19f5a7e46b31;

Win-win Outcomes for Businesses and Workers through Thoughtful Flexible Work Arrangement Implementation

Model ID: 9908e7e5-9e9a-48ba-9f44-19f5a7e46b31 Sitecore Context Id: 9908e7e5-9e9a-48ba-9f44-19f5a7e46b31;
09 Apr 2024
Model ID: 9908e7e5-9e9a-48ba-9f44-19f5a7e46b31 Sitecore Context Id: 9908e7e5-9e9a-48ba-9f44-19f5a7e46b31;

~ NTUC releases Briefing Paper on Flexible Work Arrangements to guide employers and employees on sustainable FWA practices ~

A Practical Guide – NTUC’s Briefing Paper on Flexible Work Arrangements

The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) released its Briefing Paper on Flexible Work Arrangements (FWA) as a practical guide to make flexible work arrangements work for employers and workers. Developed through research by NTUC Strategy and NTUC U Women and Family (U WAF), in partnership with The Behavioural Insights Team, the paper spotlights successful FWA implementation strategies and practices; and showcases unionised companies and Labour Movement partners that have reaped the benefits of FWAs. The paper is also a follow-up from NTUC’s #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations (#EWMC), a year-long public engagement exercise which surveyed over 42,000 workers to understand their anxieties and aspirations. FWAs emerged a key consideration for workers with caregiving responsibilities to remain in their roles1.

Titled “Briefing Paper on Flexible Work Arrangements in Singapore: Lessons and Strategies for Successful Implementation”, the paper draws on real-world examples and experiences. It offers practical lessons and strategies on effective FWA implementation, which is aimed at enhancing productivity, improving work-life balance, and driving overall organisational success. The paper also outlines NTUC’s significant milestones over three decades in promoting workplace flexibility and fostering win-win outcomes for both employers and workers.

FWAs have become increasingly crucial in today’s dynamic and evolving work landscape. With shifting societal norms and technological advancements, the traditional nine-to-five model no longer meets the diverse needs of employers and workers. Recognising this, NTUC developed this Briefing Paper to better understand the needs of workers, companies, and their experiences with FWAs to formulate recommendations on approaches to FWA implementation that maximise benefits for all stakeholders.

In support of good FWA practices, NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng said, “Understanding our economic landscape, the perceptions and underlying motivations of employers and workers, let us design interventions that promote successful FWA adoption. We found that a culture of trust and flexibility between employers and workers is important for FWA to work for both parties. The insights and recommendations outlined in this paper offer a roadmap for firms seeking to implement FWAs successfully. By prioritising good management, clear communication, and strategic adjustments to workflows and policies, firms can create an environment for workers where FWAs can work and contribute to organisational success.”

The Benefits of Flexible Work Arrangements

NTUC has been advocating for more progressive workplaces with management partners since the 1990s. These include campaigning for FWAs through updated Collective Agreements, especially for women caregivers, who tend to bear a disproportionate amount of caregiving responsibilities as compared to their male counterparts. In a recent survey by NTUC, FWA remains the key area where Singaporeans wish to see a more active role from NTUC in its advocacy 2.

FWAs benefit workers by improving work-life harmony and mental well-being, especially where it allows them to maximise their use of time and reduce expenses on areas such as commuting. They also greatly help working caregivers balance work and caregiving responsibilities, such as supervising young children at home or taking ill family members to the doctor. Additionally, given Singapore’s ageing population, FWAs will enable mature workers to continue working at a reduced work intensity and/or more comfortable pace.

On the end of employers, offering FWAs mean they benefit from access to a wider pool of talent amid a tight labour market. They are also better able to retain existing staff, many of whom have come to prioritise flexibility in their jobs following the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of NTUC’s efforts to support progressive companies that prioritise flexible work arrangements, U WAF, in collaboration with NTUC’s e2i (Employment and Employability Institute) will be relaunching “Yes, Flex Jobs!” by the end of May this year. It is a progressive jobs portal to promote companies that had adopted the Tripartite Standards for Flexible Work Arrangements.

NTUC Assistant Secretary-General and Director of U Women and Family (U WAF) Yeo Wan Ling expressed her enthusiasm about the potential impact of the Briefing Paper and said, “NTUC has been campaigning for FWAs for decades because we know that it drives productivity and enhances employee satisfaction. Through this Briefing Paper, we hope to equip more employers and workers with the knowledge and tools necessary to harness the full potential of FWAs for mutual benefit. By highlighting real-world success stories, we hope to inspire more organisations to embrace FWAs and unlock their full potential. With collaboration and knowledge-sharing, we can create a workplace culture that prioritises both productivity and employee well-being.”

Key Highlights of Briefing Paper – Recommendations and Action Points

Key highlights of the Briefing Paper include:

a. Case Studies: Analyses of successful FWA implementation in unionised companies or companies with a working relationship with the Labor Movement across various industries, showcasing real-world examples of how firms have leveraged flexibility to achieve their goals while supporting employee well-being.

b. Current Gaps: Identification of key operational needs and job outcomes for FWAs, highlighting areas for improvement and addressing common barriers and biases associated with FWA adoption.

c. Practical Strategies: Actionable recommendations and best practices for designing, implementing, and sustaining FWAs within firms of all sizes, tailored specifically to the Singaporean context. They aim to facilitate smoother transitions and greater acceptance among employers and workers. 


Action Points

Review key operational needs and job outcomes for FWAs to be easy and acceptable

Determine the kinds of flexibility that are feasible based on operational needs

Redesign jobs with support from government and Labour Movement programmes

Prioritise good management and communication to make FWAs acceptable and clear

Institute an official FWA policy, with fair and practical considerations for requests

Increase supervisors’ readiness to manage employees on FWAs

Adjust workflows and processes to make FWAs easy and clear

Invest in new technology and software

Seek consultancy and advice on processes

The launch of the Briefing Paper marks a significant step towards fostering a more flexible and inclusive workplace culture in Singapore. NTUC is committed to continue their collaboration with Tripartite Partners to drive meaningful change that benefits workers, businesses, and Singapore as a whole.

For more information or to view the Briefing Paper, please visit:

[1] #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations Our Workers’ Compact Report (2023).
[2] NTUC Survey on Economic Sentiments in Singapore (2024).