COVID-19: Reinvent the New Normal
Interview with Su-Yen Wong

The professional keynote speaker, best-selling author, and expert on the future of work shares her perspective on the post-circuitbreaker period.

COVID-19: Insights for Leaders - #SGunited #SEAunited


Su-Yen Wong, Professional Keynote Speaker

Su-Yen Wong is an internationally recognised thought leader on strategy, organisation development and the future of work, blending 25 years of experience in technology, business and human capital across Asia Pacific and North America.

Su-Yen is also a professional keynote speaker and serves on boards of several public, private, membership, and not-for-profit organisations. 



How much do you believe that the workplace will change from dealing with COVID-19?

  • We're at a stage where organisations are at a turning point - some leaders believe that the remote work imposed through the circuit-breaker period is unsustainable, while others have adapted and thrived to working in this environment. There is a school of thought that believes that the longer employees remain in this circuit-breaker period, the more we adapt and overcome our own situations.

  • Individual circumstances impact the ability of employees to respond to the disruption that remote working has brought, as we can identify younger companies or startups, are more empowered and resilient through their workplace culture. On the other hand, there are employees at the other end of the spectrum who face immense difficulty in maintaining a separation between their personal and professional lives.

  • Workplaces could respond to this dichotomy in two ways, explains Su-Yen. For example, traditional business practices which used to rely on high levels of face-to-face interaction or frequent international travel for short meetings could be abandoned in favour of tele-meetings. Through learning how to best use technology, Su-Yen recounts, businesses can also respond by improving their efficiency at tasks that seemed to use up a lot of time. 

What changes do businesses need to bring to embrace the new normal in their workplace?


  • Beyond the necessary safeguards companies need to build to ensure business continuity and health, companies should respond by assessing the other variables that are needed for a successful business. One important aspect is consumer behaviour, and another aspect is making inefficient business practices redundant. The organisational construct has never been better to strip down, says Su-Yen, and this could be through remote working, or it could be through other means such as flexibility for other matters. 

    "If there's anything this experience has shown, as people juggle the multiple facets of their life, work life, their personal life, organisations have come to a realisation of a false dichotomy. Just because people are coming to the office, does not mean that they've given up the rest of the parts of their life."


  • Businesses should look towards finding ways to ease the balancing act many employees face in managing the different responsibilities in their lives, which can be a demonstration of not only compassion, but a way to engage and empower employees to be at their most productive.

  • Another key point Su-Yen establishes is that the new normal looks very different across different cultural contexts. Using the example of differing infrastructures ofJapan and Netherland, Su-Yen relates the contrasts between their abilities to transition to remote work. With Japan having small living spaces, employees are not able to replicate a home office environment. The ritual of going to work is also very much entrenched in Japanese culture, where even unemployed employees may continue to pretend to go to work as a way of avoiding perceived shame. In contexts like this, remote working is undesirable even when more suited to the post-COVID-19 world. 
6 Questions to ask your employees during covid-19
We’ve analysed over thousands of employee answers from companies of all sizes and industries in Singapore to dig into the factors that are impacting employee well-being and engagement through this crisis and beyond.


What role can human resource / people operations teams play in facilitating these changes?

  • Focus on culture, purpose and objectives for your organisation.

  • As human resource teams are trying the achieve the purpose of their organisations, they should rethink the mechanisms they choose to achieve them.

  • Employee engagement initiatives need to be translated for the remote realities of today, and the same goes for company culture. Human resource teams also need to be the bridge between efforts to engage these employees with the performance and business results expected out of a more engaged workforce, be it remote or at the office. In that sense, HR doesn't shift its primary focus too much from their original goals.

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Additional Resources: 



Business Continuity Plan

While a BCP is focused on bringing operational processes set in place, a People Continuity Plan  focuses on developing an environment that is supportive of your employee's emotional health, as well as developing procedures to manage critical business functions from 

Here are some resources for building psychological resilience for your teams, developing your people strategy and introducing succession planning for your teams.

Read our resources about PCP




Visit our resources page to learn more about how to put your people-first during COVID-19


COVID-19 HR Resources