Singaporeans desire working from home despite frustration at technical issues

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

COVID-19 has sparked the world’s largest work from home movement. Amidst it all, technology underpins the success of remote work in today’s highly digital work environment. 

Yet, the switch to remote work has been challenging for more than half (52 per cent) of the professionals across the region in India, Japan, Singapore and South Korea. This is according to a new regional report “Video Streaming is the New Norm for Work” from Limelight Networks Inc., a provider of content delivery network (CDN) and edge cloud services.

The report takes a close look at the impact that COVID-19 pandemic has had on companies as well as the important role that content delivery and video streaming infrastructure has taken on to facilitate virtual collaboration and improve productivity. 

As Singaporeans found themselves having to suddenly work from home full-time, access to technology and strong network connection are required for the workforce to maintain productivity, retrieve and download files, and collaborate with colleagues. However, working remotely has been challenging for about 6 in 10 (58 per cent) Singaporeans, who felt that their company’s technical infrastructure was not fully prepared for the transition.

During this period, majority of Singaporeans (71 per cent) also report feelings of frustrations due to network issues and latency – such as difficulties accessing the internet, uploading and downloading files, poor video quality when streaming webinars and live content, or lags and delays during video conference and calls.

Respondents faced similar frustrations with video latency when streaming videos for entertainment and home-based learning. More than 60% of the frustrations largely arise when the video quality is poor; slow to load or when the video re-buffers.

Additional insights from the report include:

Working from home increases productivity, but Singaporeans are most likely to be working longer hours 

Although 74 per cent of Singaporeans agree that they have been more productive working from home, the increase in productivity did not necessarily lead to working fewer hours. Especially in Singapore, 43 per cent say that they are working the same number of hours, and another 44 per cent are reported working longer hours, much higher than the regional average of 33 per cent.  

Juggling multiple demands from work and at home significantly impedes productivity

During this period where homes become offices for many people in the foreseeable future, Singaporeans are most likely to have their productivity impacted due to juggling multiple demands from work and at home (66 per cent), compared to the regional average of 47 per cent. Other common obstacles to productivity include weak network resulting in internet connection issues (48 per cent), social media and internet distractions (45 per cent), and latency when streaming video content (45 per cent).

Technology cannot replace the human touch 

A significant aspect of remote work is the reliance on technology such as team chat apps, video calls, and instant messaging platforms to communicate with colleagues. While they enable communications to flow virtually, Singaporeans are divided on opinions around whether they can stand in for face-to-face interactions. Although 47 per cent of Singaporeans feel that technology is enabling quality interactions, another 50 per cent report that technology is working as an interim solution at best, with the need to balance this with in-person interaction, and 3 per cent feel that technology can never measure up to face-to-face interactions.

Most people wish to continue working from home 

Given that a majority of respondents in Singapore (78 per cent) feel that they are equipped to work from home on a long-term basis, it is not surprising that 95 per cent of respondents are keen to continue working from home, either occasionally or on a permanent basis.

“As remote working continues post circuit-breaker, a robust technical infrastructure is critical for businesses to minimise disruption to workflows and ensure business continuity no matter where employees are located,” said Edwin Koh, Regional Director, Southeast Asia at Limelight Networks. 

“Given the meteoric rise in video consumption, video latency is an issue that content providers can tackle by using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) that continually monitors and optimizes video delivery based on real time conditions. This ensures each viewer receives the highest quality while minimizing rebuffering that causes viewers to stop watching.”

The “Video Streaming is the New Norm for Work” report is based on responses from 1,000 professionals across India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea who have worked from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.