Further, in Malaysia and Thailand, head office transformation and relocation projects are underway and expected to be completed in 2022. In Singapore, the Bank will set up new social spaces in prime locations for its employees to meet and unwind.
UOB is giving the majority of its 26,000-strong workforce the choice to work remotely two days a week once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Approximately 65% of Bank roles, all of which are non-customer facing, were assessed to be suited to working remotely, whether from home or a location other than the employee’s assigned workplace.
This comes after the Bank’s six-month review of work patterns, workspaces and workforce technology tools - which found that two days of remote working a week is optimal for employees to maintain a sense of connection with colleagues and the company, and to achieve top performance.
UOB’s new remote work options also follow broader community sentiment, where 80% of people across ASEAN said they wanted some form of flexible work arrangement from their employer.
UOB’s Head of Group Human Resources, Dean Tong, said the norm of how and where people work was undergoing a fundamental rethink, and the concept of workspace and workplace was being transformed and needed to be addressed.
"We believe that the future of the workplace is a hybrid one where employees choose how to manage their work commitments based on the space and place they can be most effective. Working from home during COVID-19 has been instructive due to the speed and intensity of the change but we must look beyond the present and define a future of work that is more sustainable.
"For example, once safe distancing restrictions are eased, people will want to come together in the workplace for close collaboration, creative solutioning and in-person discussions. They will prefer to connect online for the routine tasks that can be performed from any location."
He added: "Through our remote work options, we aim to strike the right balance between providing eligible colleagues with flexibility to manage their work-life priorities and preserving the enterprise, collaboration and camaraderie of our UOB culture."
Wellness programmes, staggered timings, and more
The Bank took in feedback from its employees across its global network on the strains of having their homes turned into their offices during COVID-19. During the peak of COVID-19, while 85% of them reported to be as effective while working from home, 15 per cent said they faced stress-inducing challenges, such as trying to balance family and professional commitments, increased working hours from an ‘always on’ mentality and difficulty in nurturing teamwork and collaboration online.
In keeping in mind the long-term wellbeing of its people, UOB has launched its first ‘Wellness Week’ for employees where, regardless of their work location, employees can participate in a series of virtual activities focused on fitness, positive psychology, ergonomics and nutrition. It has also been promoting strong mental health support through a series of educational talks and online training courses.
As a result, 91% of UOB employees appreciate the care the Bank has shown them during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to its remote work options, the Bank will continue to offer Flexi-2 which gives all employees an additional two hours a month off to attend to personal matters during the working day.
Employees will also be able to avail themselves of the Bank’s staggered start times according to the local guidelines in each market. In Singapore for example, they can choose to begin their workday between 7:00am to 10:00am based on their preferred work styles.
Infrastructure improvement underway across ASEAN
UOB is also accelerating its infrastructure improvement plan which sets out the new office standards that will be used across the region - in support of agile team-based work and deeper collaboration across different functions within the Bank.
UOB’s agile work model, which started two years ago, is exemplified through the UOB Centre for Innovation at the SGX Centre in Singapore, where the workplaces are being transformed and retrofitted progressively for high-performance.
In Malaysia and Thailand, head office transformation and relocation projects are underway and expected to be completed in 2022. The new facilities are among the many across the region which will provide multi-purpose workspaces conducive to effective collaboration and social activities.
In Singapore, the Bank will also set up new social spaces in prime locations for its employees to meet and to unwind. For example, at Boat Quay, it has converted an office into a clubhouse for collaboration and recreational activities. It will be opened when COVID-19 safe distancing measures are eased.
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