The Future of Work (Part 1)

On the leading edge of technology and HR – changing our HR practices to deliver the best solutions to the public. 

One of the best things about being a HR manager is that I am constantly meeting new people and learning new things. Last year was especially busy for me, but one encounter in particular stood out. On Christmas eve, I dropped by the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) Hive to learn more about the work of its young officers.


 Located at the Sandcrawler at Fusionopolis, IDA Hive’s workspace is warm, open and welcoming. There’s a buzz in the air and, speaking to several young programmers, I found them to be passionate about ensuring the digital transformation of the Public Service. Among the helpful apps that the team has developed are myResponder for the Singapore Civil Defence Force, OneService for the Municipal Services Office, SingStat for the Department of Statistics and Beeline for the Land Transport Authority.

As the officers shared about their work, I could sense their commitment to the Smart Nation initiative and to delivering solutions that make life easier for the public. They embodied a message that was written in large letters on one of the walls at IDA Hive: “Be happy, be awesome. Help others to be happy and awesome.”


Two Lessons

My visit to IDA Hive reinforced my belief in two aspects of successful HR. The first is that HR must be alert to new challenges, and to respond swiftly to these, even if it means remaking the organisation itself. This was demonstrated in January 2016 when it was announced that IDA and the Media Development Authority will be restructured into the Infocommunications Media Development Authority and the Government Technology Organisation (GTO).

The second lesson is that however difficult the process is, HR practices must keep pace with industry-specific norms. Applying their expertise at IDA Hive are programmers, designers, engineers and data scientists – skilled professionals who are no less capable than those who join Google and other major tech firms. In this environment, HR practices of the past are unlikely to be enough. Do our HR systems have the flexibility to allow our officers to achieve their potential and better serve the public?


As HR managers, our challenge is to bring in people with the right values and to ensure that they can fulfil their promise. I spent several fruitful hours at IDA Hive and, listening to the officers, I have no doubt that they will continue to do exciting and innovative work as part of GTO. Theirs is a fast-moving domain and HR solutions must try to match this pace if they are to be truly effective.

Ms Low Peck Kem is the Chief HR Officer, Public Service Division. Don't forget to check out Part 2 and Part 3 of the 'Future of Work' series.
    Mar 8, 2016
    Low Peck Kem
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