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Flexible working key to keeping older workers and carers in jobs: Regus

NINETY-TWO per cent of respondents in a survey in Singapore said they see flexible working as critical to keeping older, experienced workers in the economy, research done by global workplace provider Regus showed on Tuesday.

And 96 per cent of respondents confirmed that flexible working is key to keeping those who care for a relative in employment so that they better juggle the demands of their family and their professional life.

The research surveyed more than 586 senior business people in various industries in Singapore.

The retirement age in Singapore has been increasing, given that Singapore is growing older "faster than nearly every other society" in the world, Regus said. By 2030, Singapore will have 900,000 people aged 65 or older - more than four times the number 15 years ago.

With this, the proportion of those needing to stay in employment, and who are fit and willing to do so, is also getting higher, it said.

"Flexible working gives professionals greater choice over when and where they work, thus enabling them to continue to contribute to the economy without sacrificing their work-life balance," it said.

Older workers also often have caring responsibilities, potential health problems and a desire to spend more time with their partner or family or to take up a new hobby or skill. Flexible working lets them still have some control of their schedule and reduces lengthy commutes to work.

"Inflexible working hours and a long commute are very off-putting to older workers who often also have to care for family members. With the push for productivity and the expected growth of the workforce not expected to exceed 2 per cent per year, flexible working is an option companies can think of to retain the skills and expertise of the ageing population," the research showed.

Lastly, flexible working can also provide older workers with a "bridge" into retirement, Regus said.

"Reports show that often the complete loss of professional work can leave retired workers feeling depressed and unmotivated even to the point of affecting mental health. Flexible working can help older workers delay retirement without giving up too much of their hard-earned freedom."