Singtel awarded pilot home-based work programme by the IDA
Singtel heads consortium to help SMEs manage their home-based workforce through ICT solutions and HR consultancy
Singapore, 12 March 2013 – Singapore Telecommunications Limited (Singtel) today announced that it has been awarded a pilot programme to help companies use infocomm technology (ICT) and solutions to offer home-based work for their employees. Under the Infocomm Develovelopment Authority of Singapore’s (IDA) ‘Pilot for Home-Based Work’, Singtel will form an eight-member consortium to demonstrate the viability of home-based work as a solution to manpower needs.
Central to the success of the one-year pilot programme is Singtel’s extensive fibre broadband infrastructure and innovative solutions, which enable home-based workers to be connected to their offices and customers.
Mr Andrew Lim, Managing Director (Business Group), Group Enterprise, Singtel said: “This Call for Collaboration (CFC) is an invaluable platform for Singtel to participate with our SMEs customers to help them use innovative ICT solutions to raise their productivity and enhance their competitive advantage. This pilot is timely as it dovetails with the Government’s Budget initiatives to help SMEs restructure and achieve quality growth.”
Singapore has an estimated 326,000 economically inactive residents (1) who can be a potential pool of virtual workforce catering to today’s tight labour market. With 86% of Singapore households having access to at least one computer at home (2) and the Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network to be connected to every home by the end of 2013, home-based work is a promising solution for manpower-strapped SMEs. SMEs can tap on this latent workforce to alleviate their manpower crunch and help raise Singapore’s competitiveness. Conversely, more of the economically inactive group can re-join the workforce and contribute productively to the economy.
While some companies already offer telecommuting and flexi-work arrangements, this pilot is significant as this is the first time an ICT company, HR consultancies and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have come together to establish a structured and sustainable way to help more companies re-design their processes to offer home-based work.
Mr Lim added: “Over the years, we have the privilege of working alongside our customers in driving many innovations to serve the SME segment. These innovations include BizTalk (3) and more recently, myBusiness. Together with our consortium members in the CFC, Singtel is committed to uncovering insights that will help companies offer home-based work to attract and retain talent, manage costs, improve productivity and enhance business agility. It would also give more Singaporeans the opportunity to re-join the workforce and be gainfully employed. Companies and their home-based workers would also reap the intangible benefits of greater work-life harmony.”
The consortium members comprise three SMEs, two multinational corporations (MNCs), technology providers and HR consultants. Please see the Appendix for more information about the other consortium partners.
Taking part in the trial are 30 employees from five companies. Singtel and Ernst & Young Solutions LLP will participate in the pilot programme as representatives of enterprises which employ home-based workers while the SME segment will be represented by Ascentis Pte Ltd, Rainforest e-Learning Pte Ltd and IDV Concepts Pte Ltd.
Solutions that will be piloted include:
- Fibre-optimised unified communications (IP based voice, chat and video calls) such as Singtel i-PhoneNet and WorldConference WeMeet to make it easy for home-based workers to stay connected to their colleagues.
- Online storage and collaboration applications like Oystor to facilitate file sharing with the office.
- Cloud-based call centre technologies like Ops Central On Demand to empower home-based workers.
- An e-Learning platform that brings teachers, students and their parents together to change the way learning can be provided from the teacher’s home to the student’s home.
With productivity, cost management and business opportunities being key success factors for an SME, Singtel is helping to address these critical requirements through myBusiness portal, an online SME community.
myBusiness provides SMEs with a platform to connect with each other and leverage their scale to crowd-source for business opportunities. By aggregating jobs, tenders and requests for proposals (RFP) from government agencies, myBusiness functions as a trading platform where SMEs can come together to bid for jobs or purchase services and products in bulk.
SMEs can also use myBusiness to learn about government grants and credit schemes to help them utilise these financial resources to grow their businesses. In addition, myBusiness provides Software-as-a-Service to help SMEs where SMEs only pay for the software they use. With 500,000 visits per month, myBusiness is currently the largest all-in-one online SME community in Singapore.
“myBusiness provides an online resource where SMEs can come together to use their strength in numbers to drive business growth, reduce operating costs and increase their efficiency and productivity. As the leading ICT service provider in Asia, Singtel will continue to source for resources far and wide to enhance the features of myBusiness to help SMEs raise their game and succeed,” said Mr Lim.
Ernst & Young Advisory, the SHRI and Growth Point Consultancy will provide consultancy services to the companies to help them amend their policies to accommodate home-based work and hold training and motivation sessions for management and their home-based employees.
The consultancies will also help them design or redesign jobs and business processes, develop communications channels and monitor the performance of their home-based employees, as well as perform cost-benefit analysis of this mode of work.
Scope of pilot home-based work
i. Ascentis will use Singtel’s conferencing solutions to enable their application developers to collaborate from different locations. This flexibility will lead to shorter project turnaround times and enhance the developers’ work-life balance. Through the pilot, Ascentis aims to retain new hires, raise employee engagement, increase productivity and improve team effectiveness.
ii. IDV Concepts helps home-based creative designers work seamlessly with their office-based counterparts, using Singtel’s solutions to access and store large graphic materials in the cloud. The company aims to leverage the success of this programme to facilitate recruitment of staff, including mobility-impaired artists, and plan for business continuity.
iii. Rainforest e-Learning is developing a learning management system to help home-based teachers deliver short tuition lessons to students through connected devices. The innovative education centre hopes to increase students’ learning retention, reduce the administrative work of teachers, promote work-life balance and lower staff turnover.
iv. Ernst & Young Solutions will harness this pilot to implement the necessary enterprise collaboration platforms and apply the benefits of home-based work. The firm has plans to make home-based work available to the rest of its 1,900 employees in Singapore should the pilot prove successful in retaining employees and enhancing the job satisfaction of its home-based employees.
v. Singtel will also be a pilot organisation through the business sales team. Five contact agents, including some who are near retirement age, will be deployed as home-based agents to perform telemarketing jobs using Innovax System’s Ops Central On Demand. The technology will allow Singtel to scale up quickly during peak seasons. This arrangement will benefit e elderly employees as they would not need to commute to work.
(1) Ministry of Manpower: Singapore Workforce 2012.
(2) IDA: Infocomm Usage - Households and Individuals 2011
(3) BizTalk allows SME customers to make free incoming and outgoing calls to 10 colleagues and associates when mobile numbers is registered under the same Business Registration Number.