Will demand for remote work change as the country reopens?

Searches for remote jobs in Singapore have jumped four times since the pandemic

Will demand for remote work change as the country reopens?

Jobseekers in Singapore have spoken: they’re looking to land remote-friendly job roles even more than before. In a recent webinar on top recruitment trends by Indeed and HRD Asia, Callam Pickering, APAC economist at Indeed revealed the trending demand for remote work. Jobseekers have been increasingly searching and applying for roles that use the term ‘remote work’ in job ads.

By the end of June, Indeed found that 2.6% of job searches in Singapore were for remote work. The figure may seem pretty low but Pickering assured that it’s more than four times higher than what was considered ‘normal’ before the pandemic.

“2.6% doesn’t seem very high,” he said. “But when you think about the millions of potential search terms jobseekers can utilise, the fact that around one in 40 searches are for remote work is actually really impressive – it’s extremely high. There aren’t too many single terms or phrases that would be higher than what we’re seeing for ‘remote work’ right now.”

Read more: What to consider when recruiting amid COVID-19

Rise in remote jobs in Singapore

Thus far, employers have been aligned with the trend and included phrases like ‘work from home’ and ‘remote work’ in job descriptions. Job postings with those terms rose sharply during Singapore’s initial lockdown in 2020, according to Indeed’s findings, and has remained high ever since. By June 2021, remote-based job postings were at its highest since the crisis.

The figures were even more impressive when broken down by job function as remote postings grew multiple times after the crisis. For example:

  • HR – Pre-pandemic: 3.2% postings. Now: 10.7% are remote-based roles.
  • Marketing – Pre-pandemic: Only 2.3% remote postings. Now: 16.2% of all postings.
  • Media & communications – Pre-pandemic: 2.2% postings. Now: 15.9%.

“Even roles that favoured remote work before the pandemic, such as IT operations and software development have experienced a pretty large increase in remote postings,” Pickering said. “We really haven’t seen a return to normal.” At last check, there were twice as many remote-based IT roles and almost thrice as many software developer roles on Indeed’s site.

“It’s going to be really interesting to see how long this lasts – whether we see a transition towards something that resembles normal or whether we see the emergence of that hybrid type model that many do seem to be in favour of,” he said.

Read more: Going hybrid? Here's what to factor in your HR policy

Will the remote working trend die down post-pandemic?

Everyone’s eagerly watching and wondering whether remote working, in full or hybrid arrangements, becomes the norm in Singapore. A quick poll of the webinar’s participants, made up of top HR leaders and company heads, gave us a glimpse of what’s to come:

  • 12% of leaders were in favour of being in the office full time
  • 20% wanted to work from home five days a week
  • Majority 67% were keen on hybrid working

“[Hybrid working] is probably going to be something that we see a lot of both in terms of the initial transition out of this pandemic, as well as what the workplace might look like – even once the world returns to something that resembles normal,” Pickering said. For now, as the trend runs high and employers ramped up recruitment in Singapore, he suggested that leaders enable remote working and emphasise the term in job descriptions to attract candidates and get ahead of the talent crunch.

But as Singapore makes ambitious plans to fully reopen the country, should leaders expect a change in demand for remote roles? “It’s possible that demand may moderate a little bit but I don’t see us going back to where we were before,” he said.

“There is a strong demand for the hybrid model. People want to work from home. They just don’t want to always work from home. I think that employers are going to adjust to what jobseekers and employees want – and that is to mix it up a little bit [between home and office time] and find something that’s going to work for employers and employees.” To watch the webinar and gain insights into the latest recruitment trends, click here.

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