COVID-19 is now endemic. We’re at a stage where we’re seeing the gradual reopening of offices and borders in markets across Southeast Asia, along with increasing vaccination rates.
A few weeks ago, working in split teams has become the default in Singapore – offering a breath of fresh air and a change in environment for employees missing the familiarity of the office environment.
We ask our Singapore employees to share what they love most about working in the office – and the specific aspects of office life they have missed during the last few months of working from home.
Having only recently joined PRecious, it’s great to finally meet my teammates and get to know them better as we head back to the office in split teams. I miss the food options around the area – especially Maxwell centre, which has a wide array of food options. The office was also kind enough to send us bagels for breakfast in the first week (when social interactions in the workplace were still allowed), so that’s a highlight. I’m glad to finally be able to dress up in office clothes, and chat with teammates as and when I need to, as they’re just around me. This enables me to feel a stronger sense of camaraderie. Having your colleagues sitting next to you fosters a different sense of team mentality.
Audrey Loy, Graduate Trainee, Edge
After months of seeing everyone on virtual screens, it was a great feeling to finally meet the people I work with in person. Conversations are easier, and discussions are more productive. I enjoy working from the comfort of my home as much as the next person, but being around colleagues physically is just different. With my office interactions, I am able to better understand my colleagues’ working styles. This goes a long way in driving up my productivity as I learn to work more effectively and efficiently with each team member. It also helps that I can just turn my chair around and ask for help instead of having to send a text message and arrange for a video call.
Sean Soh, Graduate Trainee, Life / Integrated
After many months of working from home, many of us might have felt anxious about returning to the office. But in the last few weeks that we’ve started working in the office in split teams, I realised that I missed connecting with my colleagues. After all, communicating with colleagues in person is very different from virtual chats. Working from home all the time can get lonely – so being back in the office has provided me with a sense of comfort. I feel very supported having teammates physically around me to guide me on stressful days.
Chelsea Cheong, Junior Client Executive, Life
Though we can still have friendly chats with colleagues over online messaging applications, when it comes to social interaction, I’ve come to value physical interaction so much more once we started working from the office. It definitely makes work much more enjoyable when you can share trials and tribulations much more naturally in-person. It’s easier to pick up casual chats when we’re all in the same room, and provides recent joiners with more opportunities and greater ease in assimilating into the team culture and relationship dynamics.
Aside from deepening relationships with the team, returning to office also means that clients are also returning to their offices, and we’re able to schedule physical client meetings. Being able to join my first in-person client meeting has opened my eyes to another aspect of client-agency relationships I haven’t been able to experience before – in-person interaction. Rather than just a face on the other side of the screen, our relationship with clients becomes so much more of a real relationship offline, as it is online.
Laura Chia, Junior Client Executive, Inc
When working remotely, work-life balance has a bit of a blurrier line. Is my home my office? Is my office my home? It is just difficult to preserve healthy boundaries between work and personal life. Working from the office allows me to devote sufficient energy to personal and work projects. I am better able to mentally switch off. Working from the office also allows me to take a proper lunch break where I can step out to the coffee shop to get lunch and some fresh air. I can work better with colleagues and I get to understand the team dynamics better. My internship experience becomes more meaningful as I am able to gain knowledge and form connections.
All in all, the current hybrid working arrangement allows me to not only be more productive, but also have a healthier work-life balance. As some days, I just want to wake up just in time to work and do zero commuting.
Rosalind Della Gunawan, Junior Client Executive, Sparks
While working from home remains the default for Indonesia, our Indonesia colleague Aurelia also shares about what she’s most excited about returning to the office – hopefully one day soon!
Working from home is a different feeling compared to working directly from the office. In the (hopefully) not too distant future, when the number of cases in Indonesia improves, I look forward to meeting my teammates in person. They’ve all been supportive throughout my internship journey, and I hope to get to know them better, both on a professional and personal level. I’m also keen to learn more about the PR industry through meeting face-to-face with clients. I’m eager to have brainstorming meetings with colleagues and attend non-virtual events and conferences. No matter how comfortable my room really is, I believe the office provides a better environment for productive work and learning.
Aurellia Nathania, Junior Client Executive, Indonesia office