Remote Working

Outlook: Hybrid Working in Southeast Asia

The priorities of the southeast Asian workforce have undergone a monumental shift over the past two years, and the continued adoption of hybrid work models is expected to play a huge role in those priorities. 

That’s because society defines the role of professional work very differently than it did before the pandemic. It’s something that’s presenting organizations in southeast Asia (SEA) with a unique challenge that they must be willing to accept if they’re to have any hope of remaining competitive in the market’s “new normal.”

The challenge is that organizations in SEA are expected to continue providing the flexibility of a hybrid work environment to their employees once the pandemic is over – a condition of employment that most modern job-seekers are also very keen on. Fortunately for employees and job-seekers alike, a majority of the companies spread out across the Asia Pacific region do have plans to retain their hybrid working schedules as we transition to a post-pandemic society, according to one survey.

A closer analysis reveals the facts: 7 of every 10 workers in Vietnam say that their mental well-being is now the most desirable aspect of their profession, and hybrid work schedules have contributed significantly to this sense of well-being. A look at one recent survey also says that fewer than 20% of the workforce in that region have any interest in making a full return to the office (60% will even consider quitting if their hybrid work schedules are taken from them).  

To be sure, a hybrid work model is an environment that offers employees the flexibility to work remotely (i.e., from home) a few days a week and then be in the office for the balance of the workweek. The challenge for every SEA organization is how to institute a hybrid work policy with any success while also trying to profitably run a business amidst an economy that is most decidedly unpredictable.

A study of the outlook of hybrid work environments in SEA is an interesting one and quite unlike what we’ve discovered in our examinations of western societies. While the pandemic forced many organizations to adopt some form of the hybrid working model to survive, the culture of SEA is heavily steeped in family ties, and there is a deep dependence on camaraderie. In fact, more than 70% of the Philippine workforce reported at one point during the pandemic that they missed “face time” and the social interactions with their fellow employees.  

We also discovered that major cities in western regions like L.A. and Paris have been more successful in their adoption of hybrid work environments because those areas are supported by larger living spaces and advanced technical infrastructure. 

It’s not been such a smooth transition in places like Ho Chi Minh City, where living spaces are often less than adequate for hybrid work and internet speeds, at least when the pandemic started, weren’t always reliable. Plus, the warmer tropical climates have reportedly made working from home full-time uncomfortable.

But times are changing. The general outlook is that the SEA culture will continue to lean more heavily in favor of permanent hybrid work policies that split time between working at home and at the office. 

We only need to look at the last two years to see how SEA organizations have laid the foundation for making hybrid work policies a major part of the “new normal.” Since 2020, many SEA organizations have had to strengthen their technical infrastructures with strategic investments - including in HR tech - to build the right environments that their employees need to be productive while working remotely.  

Now that SEA workers have discovered the definite link between hybrid work environments and an enhanced state of mental well-being, the companies in that region of the world are expected to continue focusing on finding the balance between profitably running a business and offering hybrid work environments to their employees rather than choosing to discontinue hybrid work schedules once the pandemic is officially over.

The expectation is that, as the world becomes more digitally connected, hybrid work will become more normalized not only in southeast Asia but across the globe as well.

READ: Outlook: Hybrid Working in the United States

READ: Outlook: Hybrid Working in the U.K.

Examples of Hybrid Work Policies in Southeast Asia

We’ve listed a few of the most highly recognizable names in SEA offering hybrid work policies to their employees with the expectation that they will keep these policies in place once we move to a post-pandemic workforce:

  • Singapore’s DBS Bank benefited significantly from adopting a cloud and mobility-first strategy early during the pandemic, and employees were able to immediately transition to home-based working environments without missing a beat in terms of expected productivity.
  • Hyundai Motor Group – the automotive giant, elected to allow its hybrid remote work model to continue after social distancing conditions were lifted.
  • In Japan, Panasonic announced plans recently to introduce a four-day workweek based on their ability to improve the work-life balance of employees.
  • Last year, SAP launched its first hybrid office in Southeast Asia to fit the company’s permanent hybrid work policy.
  • Hitachi has served as a beacon of success for how well hybrid work environments can work and have proven that a big business can run, letting employees work wherever it makes the most sense to work.

Key Statistics for the Southeast Asia Market

  •      7 out of 10 respondents to a global survey that covered Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines believe that hybrid work environments increase productivity and creativity.
  • Over 50% of the respondents in the same survey say they want companies to upgrade at-home hardware and would like to see a reimbursement policy for their high-speed internet connections.
  • Fewer than 2 out of every 10 workers in Southeast Asia prefer to work in an office full time.
  • More than 1 out of every 3 workers in Southeast Asia remain poised to seek employment elsewhere if forced back to the office full-time.
  • More than 8 out of every 10 Indonesian workers are now demanding continued flexibility in where and when they work - more than half will consider seeking employment elsewhere if those conditions aren’t met.

Hybrid Work Environments in SEA are Impacting Modern Recruitment Strategies

The cultural transformation that’s happening in SEA means that hybrid work options will continue to be the preference of modern-day job-seekers in that region. Organizations in Hanoi, Jakarta, and every other major city in SEA will need to modify their recruitment strategies and invest in the right technologies to “oil the machine,” that is, a workforce that is going to grow increasingly more remote. As things currently stand, 8 out of 10 job-seekers would be more willing to apply for a job if the company offers the flexibility of a hybrid office environment.  

HR professionals and recruiters operating in SEA will need to think seriously about continuing to offer hybrid work environments once the pandemic ends if they hope to compete for the best talent in a job market that’s tilted heavily in favor of the job-seeking candidate. Simply put, the best talent of today’s workforce has come to expect the flexibility of a hybrid office environment as a “perk” of the modern organization, and they’re more than willing to “pass” on any company that doesn’t offer it.

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Manatal – The HR Technology Companies Can Rely On

The fact is that modern hybrid work environments are leading to more demands for new HR technologies.  

In a region where technical infrastructure has been notoriously weaker than in western regions, hybrid work can bring unprecedented technical challenges, and many organizations need the proper technology to recruit and retain the best-performing hybrid workforce. Many organizations in SEA have been successful in jettisoning the traditional office environment in favor of hybrid models because of their early investments in this new HR technology.

Manatal is a leading provider of recruiting technology solutions that are helping so many organizations in SEA make the transition to a hybrid work model with a powerful applicant tracking system (ATS) that’s ranked as the best ATS on the market. With Manatal’s AI-powered ATS software system, recruiters and HR professionals are provided with powerful features that can not only attract and hire new workers more easily but also manage a workforce that is growing increasingly more remote. 

As many organizations in SEA try to rapidly implement technology that can support a remote workforce, it’s important to understand that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all software solution. Fortunately, Manatal’s ATS system is one of the most customizable software solutions on the market, making Manatal the best option for any company, large or small, that’s thinking seriously about investing in the right technology to support a hybrid workforce.

Organizations in SEA can take advantage of our free trial to discover how the Manatal platform can help them build the hybrid workforce of tomorrow.

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