Workplace Lessons from the Pandemic: The Pathway Forward

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The unprecedented events of the Covid-19 pandemic put many organizations to the test. The impact of the crisis on each organization, and its work and people, varied significantly. Some companies saw their markets grow and profits increase, while others faced shrinking demand and falling revenues. Some employers had all their employees working remotely, while others also had essential staff on the manufacturing floor, in the field, and on the frontlines. Despite the rapid change and uncertainty, a number of companies managed to thrive in the face of these challenges, landing a spot on our 2020 Singapore Best Workplaces™ list. So, what elevates our Singapore Best Workplaces™ from the rest in challenging times? Based on data gathered from over 24,000 surveys, Great Place to Work® identified five key factors:

  • Trust-based, Agile Culture : Best workplaces™ draw positive energy from their workplace culture by leveraging on the trust that they built within their workforce over time. This trust also enables the agility needed to quickly adjust to the new conditions created by the crisis.
  • Inclusive Leadership: Best workplaces™ have inclusive leadership practices that create psychological safety and promote a sense of belonging, allowing employees to feel comfortable in trying new things, sharing ideas and offering feedback.
  • Active Communication : Best workplaces™ have strong practices in place to share information and provide updates with transparency. They value employees’ feedback to understand their challenges and adjust their approaches in response.
  • Holistic Wellness: Best workplaces™ support the overall wellbeing of their employees and demonstrate care in many ways including environmental safety, job and financial security, and emotional and psychological support. Often, this support is extended to employees’ families as well.
  • Embracing Humanity: Best workplaces™ demonstrate humility, humanity and honesty in caring for their employees, customers, vendors and the broader community. They prepare their leaders not to be superheroes, but to show vulnerability, demonstrate empathy and encourage resilience in themselves and their teams.

We also identified four themes for the leadership agenda on the pathway forward:

  1. Building Trust with a focus on leader behaviors that model and reinforce trust between managers, team members and direct reports.
  2. Fostering Reinvention through intentional leadership and active teamwork, stimulating creativity and collaboration even as teams adapt to hybrid workspaces.
  3. Investing in Wellness through a holistic framework that supports employee job and financial security, encourages work-life balance, and provides fulfilment in their work.
  4. Creating a Great Workplace For All to bring out the best in every employee, no matter who they are, what they do, or where they are working.

So how did these findings resonate with workplaces in Singapore? In a recent webinar, Great Place to Work® Senior Consultant, Tyler Thorpe, and Managing Director, Evelyn Kwek, spoke with Prof. Rick Smith from John Hopkins University and leaders from Cisco Singapore, one of our 2020 Singapore Best Workplaces.

Naveen Menon, President for Cisco in Southeast Asia, recognized a greater commitment made by leaders across organizations to empathize and communicate with their people. There was a thrust for active, open and authentic communication. Dialogue was mostly open and honest, and innovation sprouted everywhere. People were spontaneous and were willing to try things, in support of their colleagues, teams and the business as a whole. Naveen noted that technology would enable the hybrid working environment, with the goal of making virtual meetings and conversations even more effective than those in the physical workplace.

Lekha George, Cisco’s Head of People and Communications for ASEAN, encouraged companies to sustain this collaborative environment of trust, by remaining nimble and agile in their response including creating multiple communication channels, practicing compassion and flexibility and allowing employees to adjust to their unique situations and play to their strengths.

Prof. Rick Smith, Vice Dean at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, advocated for organizations to continue building human connection, as many crossovers to the hybrid workplace. For example, incorporating regular iInterpersonal check-ins during one-on-one and team meetings as part of the normal course of business can help to maintain a healthy ecosystem.

To watch the recording for Lessons from the Pandemic: The Pathway Forward, click on this link.

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To be eligible for the World’s Best Workplaces list, a company must apply and be named to a minimum of 5 national Best Workplaces lists within our current 58 countries, have 5,000 employees or more worldwide, and at least 40% of the company’s workforce (or 5,000 employees) must be based outside of the home country. Extra points are given based on the number of countries where a company surveys employees with the Great Place to Work Trust Index©, and the percentage of a company’s workforce represented by all Great Place to Work surveys globally. Candidates for the 2017 Worlds Best Workplaces list will have appeared on national workplaces lists published in September 2016 through August 2017.