SG Flexi-Work Debate, Part 1

The SG flexi-work debate: Let me share a story about my friend’s start-up.

My friend has been running a fintech startup that cuts down the processing of paperwork in a particular industry. When it was two years old (in 2023), I asked my friend how many employees did he have.

“30 employees.”

“What?!? How do you afford to hire so many people in Singapore and pay them CPF?”

(The Central Provident Fund is our Singapore mandatory social security savings scheme funded by contributions from employers and employees.)

“Oh, I hire 10 locals in Singapore and they need to engage with our clients in person. The other 20 are from other countries hired on a contract basis and they work online to do the document processing. The 20 remote employees work on the documents when they are available. Their salaries are lower than the Singaporeans but they produce good quality work.”

Many people today are upset by the lack of flexi-work options in certain companies. However, when flexi-work is the norm, that means you also have to compete with people from other countries who can do the same tasks for less money and without needing you to rent office space.

In my friend’s case, he has to run his start-up and manage his PnL. He has to balance his budget, get offline and online work done, and he has chosen this workforce structure that works for him.

Technically, his Singaporean hires probably work “remotely” and flexibly as they spend most of their time with the clients but it’s not the WFH scenario that the term “flexi-work” implies in today’s context.

So if you ask me, I think “flexi-work” needs to be seen from multiple perspectives, not just from the employee’s point of view. I have more thoughts on this and might share them in following posts.

Original post and comments on LinkedIn