Homeshoring - What homeshoring?!?!

The term "homeshoring" actually refers to the practice that some call centers implement for their employees to work at home. And no, "homeshore" is not a word yet.

The latest news has a Workgroup On Home-Based Work is going to submit its report to the government. Much anticipated. Are we ready for home-based work? I'd say we are not. There are a lot of mindsets to be changed: of the bosses' (the sad prejudice that employees are not mature enough to be able to work in their own homes) and of the employees' (why should I work at home? My bosses will scorn me!).

Let's start changing the mindset one little step at a time: by not linking productivity with how long one's toiling.

The workgroup studying the feasibility of employees working strictly from home is expected to submit its report to the government later this month.

Known as home-based work, it is a form of flexible work arrangement to provide workers better work-life integration. The concept is different from tele-commuting.

In home-based work, employees do not have a workstation in the office. The employer benefits by saving on office space and lower cost of operations.

For 62-year-old Lim Eng Chuan, a senior consultant at OTI-SDC Consulting, the home is his office. Mr Lim has been working from home for more than 10 years.

He only needs to literally step into his workplace, located at Singapore's business district, once a month to attend meetings.

Mr Lim said: "I don't have to wake up early....the way to office takes an hour, the way back takes another hour. (By working from home), I save two hours....I can use it for some productive work.

"I don't have to pay for transportation, I don't have to pay for parking, I don't have to pay for petrol, I don't even have to buy new clothes because I work from home. I can be in my pyjamas."

Mr Lim is one of nine employees in his company on a home-based work programme.

Helen Lim-Yang, a senior partner at OTI-SDC Consulting, said: "Initially, when we started on this, there might have been this uneasiness of we're not able to contact this person as easily as we used to. So, the contactability might be an issue."

A survey released recently by the Manpower Ministry showed more employers offered flexible work arrangements last year.

More common forms of work-life-balance practices included part-time work.

Less common were options like home-based work, where only 1.9 per cent of employers polled said they were practising it.

That's something the workgroup on home-based work wants to improve.

Key to their report are recommendations on how to encourage companies to allow flexibility in their employees' work arrangements.

The workgroup, which was formed early last year, is part of the Tripartite Committee on Work-Life Strategy comprising representatives from various government agencies.

Mildred Tan, chairperson of Workgroup On Home-Based Work, said: "Companies are now looking at this as a real opportunity, because while we welcome foreign labour, foreign talent, we are still short of local talents in our workplace.

"There are lots of househusbands and housewives who are actually very able to work but because of certain personal circumstances they may be forced to stay at home.

"We do need a mindset change, both from employers and employees. But we think that opening up the doors for this untapped group would be a tremendous boost for the economy."

The government is expected to review and present the workgroup's recommendations during the Committee Of Supply parliamentary debate in March.

From Channel NewsAsia, "Homeshoring suggestions expected this month".