From this week, things will become busier for Ms Nur Kamaliana Sulaiman, 32, the mother of a toddler.
The assistant consumer marketing manager says she will have to start working from the office three days a week, up from twice weekly since last November.
The new arrangement is in line with a government guideline to shift towards a hybrid mode of work as Covid-19 rules ease starting from Monday (April 5). Many employees have been working from home for close to a year since last April, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On days when she has to go to the office, Ms Liana worries about being late for work because her two-year-old daughter Nuha Lana could be uncooperative. Nuha is still adjusting to her new routine of going to a childcare centre.
Ms Liana recently enrolled her in a centre that is a 10-minute walk from their home.
“Most mornings are a war getting her to shower and prepare for school,” says Ms Liana, whose husband is a civil servant who does shift work.
“I have yet to master the art of getting my kid to tune herself to a specific time schedule.”
For parents whose young children are accustomed to having them work from home for the past year, E-Bridge Pre-School’s Ms Alice Tay suggests that they introduce different occupations to their little ones using books or pictures.
The centre leader at its Telok Blangah branch adds: “You can have pretend-play sessions of ‘going to work’ to help your child have a clearer idea of where you will be when you are not with him or her.”
If your child is at home with the grandparents or helper, you can make a video-call and give an office tour. “Show that you have placed a family photo on your desk and that you will be thinking of him or her,” says Ms Tay.
Writer Marcus Wong, 40, goes to his office two days weekly, but anticipates that it will change to three days soon.
While it does not affect his childcare arrangements – his three-year-old daughter Mae is already attending full-day nursery – Mr Wong misses the flexibility to manage his time.
“Whenever I’m working from home, I can cook for the family and we can eat earlier. It would be too late by the time I get back from the office,” says Mr Wong, who takes 45 minutes to travel home by MRT.
“There’s also the inherent delays in getting out of the office. I could be trying to finish up one last piece of work or caught in a last-minute discussion.”
Regardless of how often parents need to work in the office as Covid-19 measures ease, they need not be worried that this transition would affect their children.
“Kids are really adaptable. It’s the parents who worry unnecessarily and are not used to going back to the workplace,” says Mrs Patricia Koh, education ambassador of the MapleBear Singapore chain of pre-schools.
Even when there is a change of teacher, for example, the children do not get as upset as the parents.
“They love interacting with and learning from different adults,” she says. “But adults can get quite emotional when there is a change of boss at work.”
“I think we can learn from children that change is good and we should adapt accordingly.”
If parents have to be in the office, she suggests that they try not to take work home, or wait till the kids are asleep before clearing work. “Think of ways to make time for your children,” she adds.
Text: Elisa Chia/The Straits Times