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How Apac organisations are making hybrid work, work

Nurdianah Md Nur
Nurdianah Md Nur11/30/2022 11:55 AM GMT+08  • 5 min read
How Apac organisations are making hybrid work, work
Hybrid work can help firms in the region widen their talent pool, as well as have happier and more productive employees. Photo: Shutterstock
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Hybrid work is most likely here to stay, driven largely by employees who place greater emphasis on flexibility. According to Cisco’s Global Hybrid Work Study 2022, 65% of employees in Asia Pacific (Apac) are less likely to leave their job with hybrid working arrangements. The benefits of hybrid work cited include improved quality of work, enhanced productivity, and improved social, physical, financial, emotional and mental well-being.

“Many Apac organisations have adopted communication platforms that facilitate effective collaboration between hybrid teams, and HR policies that support decentralised ways of working, and even put in place global talent recruitment strategies for remote workers that feed into diverse teams. These initiatives might not have been in place before,” says Ricky Kapur, head of Asia Pacific at Zoom Video Communications.

He continues: “They are even considering opening satellite offices or offering co-working spaces close to home, in order to allow their employees to experience the best of hybrid work. Not only can workers maximise productivity and work where they feel happiest, they can also continue to enjoy face-time with their teams to build much-needed connections.”

Kapur adds that the hybrid working arrangements also enable Apac organisations to widen their employee and talent pool. “[With hybrid work, organisations gain] the freedom of choice to source for the best candidate that fits their needs, even across geographies. This ultimately results in a more diverse workforce coming from different backgrounds with different perspectives, which is the key to unlocking greater innovation as a team.”

Updating HR policies for hybrid work

Despite the efforts that Apac organisations are making, only 28% of the employees surveyed in Cisco’s study felt that their organisation is very prepared to make hybrid work successful in the long run.

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Andy Lee, managing director for Singapore and Brunei at Cisco, notes: “We see challenges on two fronts. The first is adopting the right collaboration, networking, and security technologies to support employees’ experience, engagement, and well-being. The second is building an inclusive culture of trust for employees to work at their best, especially as half of the employees say that they have felt micromanaging behaviours increase with hybrid work.”

Kapur agrees that trust is the business currency of the future. “Employees must trust that their employers care about their safety and well-being, while employers must trust their employees to perform even when they are not in the office. We believe that much of this trust is built on choice. Giving employees the freedom to select the work style that best fits their needs will result in happier, more collaborative, and productive teams.”

Lee highlights the need to ensure people policies and guidelines evolve with hybrid work. He says: “Apac organisations should create new HR policies and frameworks to ensure that all employees are rewarded and acknowledged equally regardless of the number of days spent working at home or in the office.

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“Before the pandemic, it was the trust that you would do your job and be taken care of. Today, it is the trust that you can do your job anywhere and not be viewed and treated differently, regardless of where you choose to work.

“While companies should shape their culture so that employees feel this trust, it is equally important that they can see this trust. This starts with making sure that hybrid employees are rewarded and well compensated in the long run. An example could be updating the onboarding process or relooking at employee benefits to ensure that they are inclusive for employees working from home and in the office.

“New guidelines across people, physical office or workspace, and technology — such as tailoring the work environment to suit employees’ work demands or setting up new security policies to keep employees and the organisation safe — will be crucial to [building trust and in turn lead to] long-term hybrid work success.”

Using technology to support hybrid work in the long term

To ensure that hybrid work becomes a long-term reality, Ling Lu, director of regional product marketing at audio and video-conferencing technology provider Jabra, believes that organisations need to do more to maximise autonomy for their employees while fostering an environment for human connection.

“For this transition to be successful, organisations need to invest resources in facilitating a seamless hybrid working experience. Having the right technology in place makes a big difference when melding meeting spaces in the office and individuals working remotely. It is important to bridge this gap between remote and office participants for consistent and inclusive meeting experiences.

Organisations should equip employees with the right devices and technologies, delivering high-quality meeting experiences that break through the remote barrier,” she says.

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Similarly, Zoom’s Kapur emphasises the importance of providing the right digital platform that enables frictionless flexibility for employees while keeping security top of mind. “As employees become more mobile, the platform also needs to be incorporated with feature-rich technologies that work across devices.”

He adds: “Where security is concerned, flexible work has given rise to a new collection of threats — from increasing exposure points to complex questions around identity — which has reinforced the need to re-evaluate access to information. This will demand for an ‘always verify, never trust’ approach, applied to not only the digital platform organisations will ultimately adopt, but to security practices within the organisation.

“For example, company leaders should consider giving security officers a bigger seat at the executive table, or training employees on up-to-date cybersecurity know-hows and simple tips to manage their own security.”

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