Staff Returning To Office Rise Steadily

Singapore Staff Returning To Office Rise Steadily

SINGAPORE – The number of workers returning to the office here has been rising steadily since 29 March 2022, when up to 75 percent of staff who can work from home (WFH) have been permitted to return to their workplace, reported The Business Times on Friday evening (22 April, SGT).

For instance, CapitaLand Integrated Commercial Trust (CICT) told the news outlet that 49 percent of its office tenants have returned to their workplaces as of the week ended 14 April. This is up from the 43 percent seen in the week ended 8 April and around 37 percent in the week ended 1 April.

Notably, CICT owns office properties within Singapore’s central business district (CBD), namely in Raffles Place, Marina Bay, and Tanjong Pagar.

A representative from City Developments Limited (CDL) also shared that about 40 percent to 70 percent of its office occupants have returned to its Singapore office buildings, such as South Beach, Republic Plaza, City House, and King’s Centre.

This is up from the 20 percent to 50 percent physical occupancy seen at its office properties after the authorities lifted the default WFH requirement at the beginning of the year.

Similarly, Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) is seeing an uptrend in Singapore office occupancy. “We are already seeing an increase in employees returning to offices across the office buildings islandwide managed by JLL. It’s about an average of 30 percent before 29 March and it is around 40 percent in general now,” said Derek Soh, Executive Director of property asset management in Singapore at the real estate consultancy.

However, CBRE’s Senior Executive Director and Co-head of office services for Singapore David McKellar noted that the return-to-office rates vary.

“Some companies with client-facing, collaborative teams such as ourselves have consistently occupied offices to the maximum allowable capacity; so very close to 75 percent of our seats in Raffles Place are being utilised on a day-to-day basis.”

On the other hand, some companies, especially those with globally consistent workplace policies, are still well below the permissible threshold, he added.

Another veteran office leasing agent shared that the doubling of the group size cap to 10 persons from 29 March has helped to attract more people back to their workplace as they can go out for lunches with office mates, or socialise over dinner and drinks after work.

However, Savills Singapore’s Executive Director of research & consultancy Alan Cheong revealed that some firms are facing issues to entice more workers to return to the office.

“While some Singapore workers do not like to WFH, more apparently do. The practice has been gradually ingrained in their psyche over the past two years and hybrid work is etched on the new working landscape.”

“Some of our multinational corporation (MNC) tenants, particularly from the financial and legal sectors, have shared that there have been some challenges in getting their workforce back to the office after two years of working from home. The preference for remote work arrangements is more prevalent among the Gen Z workforce,” chimed in the CDL representative.

Amidst Singapore’s tight labour market, businesses that enforce a return-to-office policy risk losing talent to firms that offer more flexible work options, added Savills’ Cheong.

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