Employer Soundbite Edition: Kicking off your career with WFH? Here’s how to crush it

Xavier Chow manages the internship recruitment for his organisation’s local commercial office on top of his day-to-day HR Business Partner role. In this edition of Employer Soundbite Edition, Xavier shares tips on how candidates can manage WFH and make a difference in their career.
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The gradsingapore Team
Elliyani Mohamad Ali
Chief Editor, gradsingapore
Employer Soundbite, kicking off your career with wfh

gradsingapore's Employer Soundbite Edition aims to share quick thoughts from employers on current industry trends, hiring insights and useful tips for fresh graduates looking to kickstart their career on a high note. 

About the Interviewee

Xavier Chow is currently a HR Professional with a global pharmaceutical organisation and has accumulated more than 12 years of working experience in the public and private sector. In his current role, he manages the internship recruitment for his organisation’s local commercial office on top of his day-to-day HR Business Partner role. Prior to his career switch to the private sector, Xavier was a Qualified Helicopter Aircrew Instructor operating onboard the Chinook Helicopter with the Republic of Singapore Air Force. He holds a Bachelor of Business (Management) from Murdoch University and is actively pursuing his coaching credentials with the International Coaching Federation.

As of early 2022, do you see more employees from the pharmaceutical industry returning to office on a full-time basis? Why or why not?

Since January 2022, it is no longer a mandate to work from home in Singapore. Although there is an increase in number of employees returning to office to work daily, the number is still a far cry from pre-pandemic days. A reason might be that both employees and employers have embraced virtual working as the norm in the past 2 years and any changes would take time to implement.

What are some challenges that you notice young graduates have when working virtually?

Adapting to the team’s work rhythm and working culture are some of the challenges I’ve noticed for young graduates. Traditionally, these can be simply picked up through observational learning – just watching how other employees interact with one another can give off plenty of non-verbal and visual cues that would shorten this curve. However, it can be difficult to do the same in a virtual environment, and the challenge may be exacerbated due to other barriers, such as unfamiliarity with the virtual collaboration tools that the company is using.

What are some tips you would give graduates to quickly excel in remote working?

Ask lots of questions and don’t be afraid to reach out to an unfamiliar contact to clarify your doubts! Another tip is to spend the first 2 weeks to understand the organisational structure of the company and how your role fit into the “big picture” of how the company operates. This could help you solidify and understand certain work processes better, you might even identify some areas that you can help to improve upon!

How common is miscommunication between colleagues, especially for fresh graduates? What are some tips to manage this?

Miscommunication is fairly common in the workplace because a breakdown in communication happens when the intended message by the is not interpreted correctly by the recipient. If you’re the sender of a message, it helps to use plain and clear language to help your recipient understand your intentions. If you’re on the receiving end and you’re not quite sure of what the other party wants, try clarifying the intention through paraphrasing the message that was sent to you.

Where do you see the industry moving towards in the future? (e.g. working in office full-time, hybrid)

The future of work is Hybrid - Recent polls by the World Economic Forum and Business Consultant firms found most employees preferred a hybrid working environment. Employees value the flexibility, trust and autonomy provided by their organisation. For the business, this translates into higher employee satisfaction levels and a whole range of benefits that stems from increased employee satisfaction.

Do you have other advice for graduates on this topic?

In some cases, remote working has blurred the lines between personal time and work. Whilst it’s tempting to reply to that email, or to continue to work on that report in your bed, it’s important to set boundaries as well as give your mind that rest and break it requires. A practice that I have adopted is to dedicate time blocks in my calendar for personal activities that will re-charge and re-energise my well-being, such as going for a run in the neighbourhood, or going for a quick spin on my bike.