What’s holding back Singapore employee productivity?

Singapore employee productivity
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Companies in Singapore are at the forefront when it comes to unlocking new levels of employee productivity with time-saving technologies, such as AI. These are findings from Slacks’s latest State of Work report.

Singapore is investing in technology to improve productivity

The report surveyed 1,341 desk workers in Singapore and found that 30% of companies in Singapore are investing in technology to improve productivity and efficiency, and 35% are using AI tools to help do so, second only to India in both aspects. The findings constitute part of a global survey of more than 18,000 workers across nine countries.

These time-saving technologies look set to play a key role in unlocking new levels of productivity for organisations in Singapore, particularly as employees grapple with business formalities such as meetings and emails – more than any other market:

  • On average, employees in Singapore say they spend 36% of their time on performative work that doesn’t contribute to company and team goals but is done to appear productive.
  • 44% of desk workers believe they spend too much time on meetings and emails – the highest globally.
  • 29% of Singapore executives are tracking activity metrics (e.g. hours worked, emails sent) among their employees, but only 15% of employees believe doing so helps their productivity.

Trends driving employee productivity

The report uncovers three trends defining modern work and driving employee productivity today:

  1. While Singapore leads the way among countries surveyed, new technologies, such as AI and automation, are still largely not being implemented by companies.
  2. Office work and design are being redefined in the age of hybrid work.
  3. Employee engagement and talent development also directly impact productivity.

Singapore is among the leaders in AI adoption globally, but implementation is lagging

AI and automation capabilities have the potential to streamline and optimise repetitive, time-consuming tasks, allowing Singapore employees to focus on higher-value, strategic work:

  • Those who have adopted AI at their company are 63% more likely to report higher levels of productivity than those who have not adopted AI.
  • Most (81%) employees say that automating routine tasks, such as getting expense report approvals, would improve their productivity.
  • Those who use automation at work estimate saving an average of 3.6 hours a week – this equates to at minimum one working month a year* given back to each employee to focus on meaningful work. However, 53% of employees in Singapore say their company has not incorporated AI tools to support their productivity. And 32% say that their team has not created automations to make their work processes easier or more efficient.

Beyond automation, Singapore workers see value in new ways of working

In the age of hybrid work, employees in Singapore are looking for flexibility and an environment that fosters collaboration and inclusivity:

  • More than half (54%) say that flexible work schedules are one of the best ways for their employer to support their productivity.
  • Employees say flexible location (43%), unique workplace benefits, such as providing lunch or recreational activities (32%) and making improvements to the workplace, such as having more meeting rooms and quiet areas (29%), also enhance productivity.
  • 41% of employees in Singapore cited coordinating or collaborating with other teams as a key challenge faced by their immediate team. In fact, a majority (82%) say that having the right technology to collaborate from anywhere (share knowledge, drive projects forward, etc.) would improve their productivity.

However, only a few executives in Singapore are using modern strategies to improve how employees work with each other – wherever they are:

  • Just 21% of Singapore executives are making changes to the physical office, such as quiet libraries, collaboration spaces, and larger social lounges.
  • Only 18% encourage asynchronous work, for example, when sharing status updates.
  • 44% of employees in Singapore cite spending too much time in meetings as a top productivity challenge. In fact, employees say that 44% of their meetings could be eliminated with no real adverse consequences.

Productivity and wellness are not mutually exclusive — to deliver results, employees must be well

Job satisfaction, engagement, and mental wellness are also top factors that contribute to productivity, so it’s crucial for leaders to consider these areas as part of how they redefine and drive productivity:

  • Most (82%) of employees in Singapore say that feeling happy and engaged with their organisation would improve their productivity.
  • Employers need also to prioritise wellness, as 58% of employees in Singapore say that they feel pressure to respond to messages quickly, even if they’re sent after standard working hours.

Managers play a key role in shaping work culture and must be armed with people development skills, tools to drive efficiency and manage teams, and team wellness support. However, they face challenges in creating a healthy and productive environment:

  • 42% of people managers in Singapore cite helping their team stay motivated as a top challenge. This is compounded by the fact that one-third (34%) of employees say that staying aligned on overall company goals and direction is a hurdle to productivity.
  • Also, more than a third (39%) of people managers identify spending too much time on tasks like meetings and emails and helping their team stay motivated (42%) as additional challenges they face.

Related article: Robots are covering Singapore’s workforce gaps

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