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Youths share how COVID-19 has affected their jobs and what they would like to see in their industries' future

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It has been a rough year in the workforce, but these youths remain optimistic for the future.

The COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting circuit breaker in Singapore has led to unprecedented damage and changes throughout its various industries. The period also inadvertently demonstrated the practicality of work from home arrangements, while emphasising some issues that predates the pandemic. 

As the country gradually reopens itself, here is how COVID-19 and working from home has affected the jobs of three youths who are relatively new to their industries, and what they hope to see changed moving forward. 

Having more compassion for the underappreciated 

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Xenon hopes for more compassion to be shown in the interior design industry. 
PHOTO CREDIT: JUDE BECK VIA UNSPLASH 

"Working from home was uncomfortable in the beginning as home was always just a place for rest. Having had similar experiences in the past, it was not exactly the type of environment I prefer to work in as I notice that I tend to be more distracted and less productive in terms of working from home." 

"However, I have also learnt from experience to set boundaries and limits for myself so that I don't end up overworking because I am at home with my work 24/7, and that helped me tremendously." 

"As an interior designer, it has generally been difficult for the [building and construction] industry but we are still able to manage. The government sectors in the industry have also been trying to help sort things out by providing certain measures to ensure the safety of everyone moving forward." 

"I think we are all just trying to do the best we can right now and it's important to have compassion and empathy for one another. Moving forward, I also hope that the industry will provide a better environment and welfare for our foreign workers while ensuring their well-being. They should not be doing it only when things are tough. It should be a conscious effort that should be done throughout their journey working here." - Xenon Wong, 26, interior designer 

Making the best out of telecommuting 

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Working remotely might be comfortable for some, but for the rest, it might not be the best. 
PHOTO CREDIT: BONGKARN THANYAKIJ VIA PEXELS 

"I believe that working remotely is rather frowned upon in the workforce today as employers would prefer more face time to substantiate the amount of work being performed. However, during these unprecedented times, it has been proven that working from home is effective to a certain extent, thus eliminating the social norms which were implied. With the integration of various technological apps, telecommuting is rather convenient and any discussions/meetings which may be deemed essential can be done online." 

"Personally, I have mixed feelings about working from home arrangements. If implemented correctly, I agree that working from home could be an efficient methodology moving forward." 

"However, we should not discount the fact that being in the office automatically provides you a 'mood to work' as you are not in the comfort of your own home, thus increasing productivity. It is fair to say that plenty of discipline is required while working from home." 

"Being in the global mobility industry, business has been affected due to travel restrictions but my company's day-to-day operations remain the same. I feel that even with a major overhaul of the processes involved, nothing much could be prevented in a situation like this affecting the industry. While telecommuting might be a norm internally, I don't think this would be the case with clients in the future. " - Jesper Tan, 26, global mobility services and personal tax associate 

An opportunity for worthwhile change

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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about some positive changes. 
PHOTO CREDIT: ROSS FINDON VIA UNSPLASH 

"I needed some help getting used to working from home at the start but I slowly coped with it as the weeks went by. During this period, I also learned that I needed to communicate more effectively through texts and calls, as work was not as convenient as when everyone was in the office." 

"The sales and business development industry have been hit hard. Before the pandemic, I have mostly been selling to offline retailers both in and out of Singapore so business has been bad. Due to the lack of tourist crowds, many stores have had to close temporarily, and some were faced with rental and profitability issues in the months leading to the circuit breaker." 

"I hope more leessors or landlords can be more flexible with their rents in the future with rental based on tenants sales rather than a fixed rent each month. I hope that this pandemic can actually weed out the competition and help the businesses that have been working hard and constantly improving to come out on top." 

"I also hope that people will realise that offline stores are actually sacrificing much more to provide customers with better service and can offer more than online stores; it's not just how these stores allow customers to try out items. Finally. I hope that businesses can use this time to build up their online presence so that they can be combined with their offline presence to allow themselves to be better than ever before after Singapore opens up again." - Tan Yen Liang, 25, sales manager

BANNER AND TEASER PHOTO CREDIT: KIRILL PETROPAVLOV VIA UNSPLASH 

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