Survey Results: Tales of the night (shift). Singapore workers share ghostly encounters at work

By Jonathan Tay

Shifting shadows and eerie brushes of cold winds. Could they be tricks of the mind or something more daunting? The latest online study conducted by JobsCentral, from May to June 2013, asked over 3,500 Singapore workers if they have ever experienced supernatural incidents at work.

Nearly one out of five (16.5 per cent) workers reported having personally experienced or hearing of supernatural occurrences at their workplaces.

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Among the encounters described by workers, thirteen stood out as the most hair-raising otherworldly experiences and were highlighted below (Warning: Some of these stories are not for the faint-hearted):

1. “Spirits haunt the office after 8pm. Child spirits were sighted playing along the stairways.”
2. “On some nights at about midnight, a colleague’s computer would log on even though she was not in the office. Upon further probing, it was discovered that the ID used to log on to the computer was that of a deceased colleague.”
3. “Some colleagues saw a ‘girl’ sitting on top of the fume hood in the hot room. The room was said to have been demolished before due to a fire incident.”
4. “CCTV captured images of a deceased worker talking to a customer.”
5. “During closing time, lingering child spirits were witnessed, peeking out of corners in the deserted aisles of the store. Unexplainable drop in temperature can sometimes be felt at some corners of the store.”
6. “My previous manager was the last to leave the office one night and had checked that everything was in order before locking the doors. She was the first to arrive at work the next day and when she turned on the lights, she was shocked to find the mouse on every workstation flipped over.”
7. “Received phone calls from the office at night with no response on the other end of the line. Lights would be turned on and security alarms triggered after work hours even though no one was in the office.”
8. “While working alone in the early mornings, many have seen reflections besides their own on the glossy walls of the pantry.”
9. “A colleague working in the kitchen was approached by a customer, requesting a particular drink for his wife. The drink was prepared and brought to the customer’s wife, who was shocked since it was her favorite drink. The lady customer then explained that her husband had passed away a few days ago.”
10. “Got into an empty lift after working late one night. Just as the lift doors were closing, I caught a glimpse of the window outside the lift. There in the reflection, was a shadowy figure in the lift with me. ”
11. “Documents kept falling off a cabinet located at the back of the office. CCTV captured images of a black figure.”
12. “We have to say aloud that “we are going home” before locking the office doors at the end of the day. There were a couple of times that the doors could not be lock when we didn’t do so.”
13. “A female colleague working the night shift heard someone crying in one of the toilet stalls. Out of concern, she checked every cubicle and was horrified to discover that the toilet was empty. Her immediate reaction was to dash out of the toilet and as she was doing so, a loud laughter of a woman echoed from the toilet.”

If it's something weird and it don't look good

More than half (58.7 per cent) of the supernatural occurrences shared by workers involved witnessing unexplained events. These sightings include:
• Seeing ghostly figures/ shadows – 65.1 per cent
• Office equipment which start operating on their own – 12.3 per cent
• Unexplained shifting of office items – 8.5 per cent
• Doors that open and shut on their own – 5.2 per cent
• Possessed co-workers – 3.3 per cent
• Supernatural sightings through security cameras – 2.8 per cent
• Office equipment failing during particular time/ period – 1.9 per cent
• Seeing a co-worker's doppelganger – 0.9 per cent

Apart from witnessing supernatural incidents at work, other supernatural experiences include:
• Hearing unexplained noises (such as knocks, screams, cries or singing) – 34.3 per cent
• Sensing uneasy presence – 4.7 per cent
• Hurt or touched by unseen force – 2.2 per cent

Don’t get caught alone

Ghostly encounters described by workers often took place in:
• Washrooms – 32.5 per cent
• Meeting rooms – 15.1 per cent
• Corner of the office – 7.9 per cent
• Storerooms – 7.9 per cent
• A particular workstation – 7.1 per cent
• Corridors – 7.1 per cent
• Stairways – 7.1 per cent

I hear it likes the girls

A larger proportion of female workers (18.8 per cent) have cited supernatural experiences at work, as compared to their male counterparts (14.5 per cent).

Perils of grave-shifters

Professions working the grave-yard shifts are more likely to be spooked. Supernatural occurrences were found to be more common among workers holding positions of:
1. Writing / Editorial – 27.9 per cent
2. Healthcare providers – 27.6 per cent
3. Military / Uniformed group– 27.5 per cent
4. Event Management – 23.8 per cent
5. Production– 23.1 per cent

Across work industries, more workers in the Construction industry (16.7 per cent) have reported supernatural encounters, followed by those from Services (16.5 per cent) and Manufacturing (16 per cent). Within the Services industry, the top 5 trades with higher instances of ghostly encounters are from the:
1. Health & Social Services – 25.6 per cent
2. Public Administration & Education – 20.6 per cent
3. Arts, Entertainment & Recreation – 20.4 per cent
4. Transportation & Storage – 20.1 per cent
5. Professional, Scientific & Technical Services – 17.3 per cent

I ain’t afraid of no ghost

Supernatural aside, palpable workplace challenges can be more terrifying to workers. More than four-fifths of the workers surveyed (82.8 per cent) say that they have at least one REAL fear at work. Workers cited the following as their greatest workplace phobias:
• Not meeting performance goals/ targets – 51.1 per cent
• Offending the boss – 46.3 per cent
• Missing deadlines – 41.8 per cent
• Offending colleagues – 31.5 per cent
• Having to make crucial decisions – 22.9 per cent
• Public speaking/ presentation – 21.8 per cent
• Dealing with customers/ vendors – 15.8 per cent
• Leading a project/ team – 11 per cent
• Working with numbers – 10.4 per cent

Survey Methodology

The online study was conducted among 3,568 Singapore workers, aged 16 and over, from 22nd May to 23rd June 2013.

The respondents consist of employed individuals from all levels of occupation, work industries and sectors of work.

Using a confidence level of 95% and sample size of 3,568, the results of this survey have a sampling error of +/- 1.64 per cent. This means that for every 100 times the exact survey is conducted, the results obtained are conformable to a margin of error of +/- 1.64 per cent, 95 per cent of the time.

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