Views & Visions: Back to the office (again) Part 1

Category: Business


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. relatively / ˈrɛl ə tɪv li / (adv.) – when compared to something similar

    The house is relatively new. It was built 30 years ago, but the houses around it were built over 100 years ago.

  2. surreal / səˈri əl / (adj.) – strange and unusual, such that something doesn’t feel or look real

    We saw three rainbows in the sky. They looked so beautiful and surreal.

  3. anxiety-provoking / æŋˈzaɪ ɪ ti prəˈvoʊ kɪŋ / (adj.) – causing fear or worry

    Job interviews can be anxiety-provoking.

  4. gathering / ˈgæð ər ɪŋ / (n.) – an event where people meet for a particular purpose

    The hotel’s biggest hall is perfect for parties or other gatherings.

  5. mitigate / ˈmɪt ɪˌgeɪt / (v.) – to lessen or reduce the harm, pain, danger, or other negative effects of something

    People are still advised to wear masks to mitigate the chances of spreading the illness.


Read the text below.

The news wasn’t unexpected. After all, COVID-19 infection numbers have remained relatively low in Singapore.

But when the government announced that more employees currently working from home could return to the workplace, it felt a little surreal. Many people had already gotten used to “the new normal.” Going back to the “old normal” was yet another change to grapple with and more than a little anxiety-provoking.

According to a survey commissioned by The Straits Times, 8 out of 10 workers said that they prefer to work from home or have flexible arrangements. Survey respondents also said they were concerned about safety in their workplaces.

Currently, we still have to keep our masks on in the workplace, except when we are eating or drinking. Gatherings are limited to eight people and no more than 75% of the staff can be in the workplace at any one time. To a certain extent, this may help to mitigate the risk of infection at work.

However, it is uncomfortable to wear our masks throughout the day. If we are working from home, we can enjoy the freedom and ease of being mask-free. We also save time and money, since we don’t have to commute to the workplace. (Tan Ying Zhen)

To be continued…

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Singapore’s government announced that more employees currently working from home could return to the workplace because infection numbers had remained relatively low. Do you think this was a good idea? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • According to the writer, employees still have to keep their masks on, except when eating or drinking. Also, gatherings are limited to eight people, and no more than 75% of the staff can be in the workplace at any one time. Do you think any of these safety measures should be kept even after the pandemic ends? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • The writer said that many people in Singapore had gotten used to “the new normal.” Do you think this is true in your country too? What do you think will be the hardest thing to adjust to when things get back to normal (ex. being around many people, having to leave your home more)? Why? Discuss.
  • The author says that for many people, going back to the old normal is anxiety-provoking. For you, what is anxiety-provoking (ex. giving a speech in front of many people, going to the dentist)? Why? Discuss.