Does working from home change how we view workplace?

By Gabriel Chen, Director, Singapore Studio

11 May 2020

For a start, I wasn’t that sure if Working From Home (WFH) would work for someone like me where daily face to face exchange with colleagues has been an essential routine for me.

Given the circumstances, we are all in the same boat; maybe not together. We are realising a situation that enables us to think about our own individual and societal existence, and how others acknowledge our presence. We are on our own so to speak, in a way that we should become less dependent on interactions. Speaking for myself, this experience has sharpened my awareness- of myself as well as of others. I am more acutely aware of how I transmit my thoughts and speech. As I don’t have to be concerned with my lack of appearance in a remote meeting, I can be more focussed on the matters arising.

Workplace and its design has become a hot topic, and everyone has their own thoughts. I read about many new strategies in tackling the workplace post-pandemic. There is already enough being spoken about since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they are all well intended. Most of the areas have been covered and they are not new- more space in the workplace, better air quality, good sensors to detect airborne pathogens, earthly materials and palette, and well-being in the form of biophilia. These are all things we know and are still trying to implement with some degree of success.

WFH is a new norm that is being debated across all boards. There is always limitation in WFH. This is a period where it is under close observation, and it will take some time to draw useful conclusion from here. WFH would not apply to all services, because life is not about remote meetings, reporting and presenting. There are new and personal discoveries that one bumps into in the course of WFH, if one were to realize the potentials. WFH is increasingly blurring the boundaries between work and family. The presence of children, or cats and dogs in the background during a remote conference will become a norm, and should be a welcome norm.