RESEARCH: In the past two years, hybrid working has become an important buzzword for both employers and employees everywhere. Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, traditional working styles have been put to one style and it is the new kid on the block — hybrid working — that everyone is talking about and implementing in their professional lives.
But what exactly is hybrid working and why is everyone opting for it? The hybrid working model is a work style that enables employees to work from different locations, often on an ad-hoc or unscheduled basis. It is an inherently flexible arrangement, with many organisations adapting the broad tenets of hybrid working to match their existing work culture. The most common variation is the true 50-50 mix, whereby employees get to work half from the office and the other half of the time from home or a remote location. Another common alternative is the customised model where teams can decide how much time to allocate in the office on an individual basis.
What all these variations have in common is that employees and their wellbeing are prioritised. By providing flexibility to employees, organisations should look at investing in technology that will provide a smooth transformation to enable hybrid working.
The Covid-19 pandemic shone a new light on hybrid working because the pandemic brought upon many realisations to the global workforce. Employees started doing their work from home including having virtual meetings. While employers had to recruit new staff through online interviews and tests.
It made both employers and employees realise that work for many professions can be done from home without compromising on productivity. This is proved through a study done by Masayuki Marikawa for the Centre for Economic Policy Research, which revealed that the average productivity of employees in Japan when working from home in 2020 is 68.3%, and Japan’s labour participation rate in 2019 was 48.85%. A 19.45% increase in the average productivity rate is an impressive number for firms to look at continuing with hybrid working as a future working style.
The Mariwaka study further revealed that the highest rate of productivity when working from was recorded in the information and communication industry at 80.3% followed by manufacturing at 68%, services 66.5%, wholesale 65%, and retail at 62.6%.
Businesses within the retail and service industries have yet to adapt and innovate technology that can help make them pandemic-proof and thus hybrid working-friendly.
In the Philippines an increased productivity through remote working is seen in its IT and business sectors. The Information Technology and Business process association of the Philippines (IBPAP), recorded an employee productivity increase by 15%-40% while absenteeism declined by up to 40%.
The reason behind the increase in productivity for sectors such as IT, communications, and business is workplace flexibility that hybrid working offers.
A 2021 survey released by Ernst & Young Indonesia on preferred working arrangements of employees in Southeast Asia, revealed that there is a change in attitude of Southeast Asian employees towards working arrangements in the post-pandemic phase. The survey showed that 6 in 10 of respondents would quit their jobs if they are not provided with workplace flexibility. Through the survey the respondents believe that hybrid working would increase productivity by 73%.
There is no doubt that the need for flexible working is getting bigger in Southeast Asia. An individual survey by Ernst & Young showed that 9 in 10 employees in Malaysia want flexibility in where and when they work. While only 22% of respondents would prefer to work from the office full-time.
Similarly, in Indonesia where flexible working is evolving, 85% of workers demand for flexible-working. With 54% even willing to leave the job if demands are not met. In more developed labour market systems such as Singapore, where hybrid working is already a common phenomenon- 42% of local respondents want hybrid working arrangement to continue after the pandemic, as reported by Randstad Singapore.
It is no secret that employees want hybrid working to continue in a post-pandemic world and the permanency of it is already a reality for many organisations.
Moreover, the technology that makes the hybrid working model possible is available. DBS bank is an example of how organisations can implement hybrid working through the right technology.
Founded in Singapore and has branches across Asia Pacific, DBS Bank, announced in November 2020 that it is making hybrid working permanent for its 29,000 workforce. They made hybrid working permanent by giving employees the option to work remotely 40% of the time, and the rest 60% from the office or from a co-working space.
To support this big move, DBS has an app for its employees to work anywhere at any time. They can conduct meetings and collaborate across departments through the app from a phone, tablet, or desktop. Cloud technology was used for the app that allows employees to do the job from anywhere thus providing that flexibility.
Other than providing support for hybrid working, DBS bank also has a DBS learning Hub mobile app that includes DigiFY- a digital curriculum designed for its employees for training and upskilling purposes. Employees can enrol for e-learning and modules as well as attend training from their mobile or tablets. For this, DBS used technologies such as AI, blockchain, and chatbot providing flexibility for its employees to learn and train at their own time and pace.
Employee demand for flexibility and the technology that supports hybrid working will certainly make this working style a trend that will continue on in 2022.
This feature was extracted from Chief of Staff Asia's report, HR trends for 2022: What can HR expect from the year ahead? For further coverage, and access to the full report, please see any of the below links:
HR trends for 2022: What can HR expect from the year ahead (full report) January 13, 2022
Four trends that HR can expect in 2022: Chief of Staff report (news highlight) January 14, 2022
HR trends for 2022: Hybrid working model set to stay (feature) January 16, 2022
HR trends for 2022: Staff benefits to get an overhaul (feature) January 17, 2022
HR trends for 2022: Data analytics are the new gold (feature) January 18, 2022
Keeping staff engaged at Shopee (case study) January 19, 2022
HR trends for 2022: Talent management systems for the win (feature), January 20, 2022