Week of 17 August 2020
Asia is notorious for its workaholic culture, and our current remote working situation hasn't changed that. For most of us, our office is a few steps away from our bed, but we’re also likely working longer hours. Are we necessarily more productive now—and do we have to be? Let’s take a Deep Dive.  

🛋️ The coronavirus pandemic has caused an unprecedented work-from-home situation worldwide. It may sound like something we’ve always wanted—being able to plop down on our couch within seconds after a stressful day—but not everyone is rejoicing. 

👨‍💻 The truth is, if you found it difficult to stick to the 9-to-5 workday before, it’s probably worse now. With the blurring of lines between the office and the home, some of us are finding it tough to disconnect from work completely. Holding meetings during lunchtime, checking emails in bed and taking late-night work calls are fast becoming the norm.   

😫 Early data has shown that generally, the pandemic hasn’t caused major dips in employee productivity even as we work from home, contrary to what some leaders predicted. A number of companies are even seeing a rise in worker efficiency, although there are signs that we’re also burning out faster

🧠 Some experts are also saying that we may be unconsciously pressuring ourselves—and others around us—to do more during this time. Whether it’s because we’re grateful to still have a job or ensuring we make full use of the time that had been previously spent on commuting, this can bring more harm than we might expect, especially to our mental health.


“It’s tough enough to be productive at the best of times, let alone when we’re in a global crisis. The idea that we have so much time available during the day now is fantastic, but these days it’s the opposite of a luxury. We’re home because we have to be home, and we have much less attention because we’re living through so much.”

— Chris Bailey, productivity consultant and author of Hyperfocus: How to Manage Your Attention in a World of Distraction




57% Globally, 57 percent of leaders cited the pandemic’s potential negative impact on productivity as their biggest concern.

36% A study found that on average, 36 percent of employees in Singapore felt less productive working from home than in the office.

In countries such as France and the UK, employees are putting in an additional two hours during the pandemic.  

9AM In the US, peak email time has moved up by an hour to 9AM.

1,000% In March 2020, Microsoft reported that the number of video calls made on its Teams platform grew by more than 1,000 percent.

49% In Singapore, only 49 percent of workers say they have the flexibility in their work-from-home schedule to care for family members, if needed.


Professionals working from home are starting to feel burnt out, due in part to longer working hours. According to a recent survey, what percentage of people are experiencing this?

A. 50 percent
B. 60 percent
C. 70 percent

Scroll to the bottom of the email for the answer.


From an electric vehicle company redefining the concept of car ownership to a Japanese pharmaceutical company with a newly released breast cancer drug, here’s a list of 100 companies that have remained highly productive during the pandemic.   


5 Stories To Get You Up To Speed
  1. Are Companies More Productive In A Pandemic?
    The New York Times

  2. Why You Should Ignore The Pressure To Be Productive During Lockdown
    The Guardian
  3. World Productivity Day 2020: Redefining Productivity In A Pandemic
  4. The Pandemic Has Exposed The Fallacy Of The "Ideal Worker"
    Harvard Business Review
  5. We're Still Working From Home Months Later. These Are The Habits To Keep In Place
    Fast Company


The New Normal

We’ve been had—working from home isn’t as relaxing as we'd hoped, especially not during a pandemic. This widely shared video from Apple depicts the reality of WFH life


The pandemic is making companies rethink the way they organise their work and what measures they need to put in place to ensure workforce productivity and well-being.

Startup EngageRocket, co-founded by Gen.T honouree Leong Chee Tung, has partnered with the Institute for HR Professionals and Singapore HR Institute to release a study on how Singapore businesses are adapting and what others can do.


The Man Behind Zoom
Eric Yuan
If there's one tool that's helped the world stay productive and connected, it's Zoom. CEO Eric Yuan founded the company in 2011 and launched the video conferencing platform in 2013. When the usage of Zoom spiked at the beginning of the year due to the coronavirus outbreak, Yuan made almost US$4 billion in just three months. 

The Efficient Slacker
Stewart Butterfield
Like many digital communication platforms, Slack experienced rapid growth in its user base during the pandemic. Between February and March this year, the workplace communication platform’s co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield saw at least 9,000 new paid customers globally, an increase of 80 percent compared to the previous two quarters.

Gen.T Spotlight

Two Honourees To Know

Leong Chee Tung
In April, Leong Chee Tung’s start-up EngageRocket, an employee engagement solution provider, partnered with The Institute for HR Professionals and Singapore HR Institute to launch a productivity tool for remote working. The digital platform helps employees stay engaged and productive while allowing them to share their thoughts and concerns anonymously.


Korawad Chearavanont
Korawad Chearavanont is the founder of Eko, a communications and operations platform that helps companies improve their staff engagement and work more efficiently. To date, Eko has helped businesses to improve their productivity by 33 percent and reduced turnover rates by 59 percent. 


Did you miss our Deep Dive on The Changing Face Of Philanthropy? Read it here


A Full House
Tired of non-stop video calls? Play Conference Call Bingo to liven up any meeting.


Why Older Entrepreneurs Are More Successful

That's it for this issue. Have a productive week!

The Deep Dive is a weekly close-up look at an idea, issue or trend that’s shaping Asia’s future. This issue was written by Chong Seow Wei, with editing and production by Samantha Topp and Lee Williamson.

We’d love to know what you think of this issue, and future topics you’d like us to cover. Please send your comments to And if you missed it, don’t forget to check out last week’s Deep Dive, on The Changing Face Of Philanthropy.

The answer to the quiz is C (7).

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