Many employees across the globe have been working from home due to the pandemic, and have missed stepping into their offices, reveals a recent report by JLL, a real estate company. Titled Home and Away: The new hybrid workplace?, the Asia Pacific report highlights that for 82 per cent of office employees surveyed in India, the primary reason they miss their workplaces is lack of personal interaction. The survey further said that the pandemic has transitioned 66 per cent of the surveyed employees in India into work from home arrangements.
“Employees across India have successfully transitioned to remote working, but our interactions also suggest that many now crave the office environment’s cultural and human experience. It is becoming clearer that the office is here to stay, but greater acceptance of remote working will force a new workplace model for many corporations regionally,” said Ramesh Nair, CEO and country head (India), JLL.
The report, for which 1,500 employees at major corporations in five Asia Pacific markets were surveyed, further stated that the desire of India-based professionals to return to the office outpaces the regional average, which was 61 per cent. However, both in India and across Asia Pacific, employees indicated that they would favour a hybrid model combining more flexible work arrangements in the future.
Furthermore, regionally, 81 per cent of millennials strongly agreed that they felt technology-ready, and 52 per cent said they were more productive working from home. However, some could not afford accommodation with space and amenities vital for successful homeworking.
In terms of confidence in their company’s future, India emerged a leader with as high as 86 per cent employees being confident of company’s future, versus 65 per cent for the Asia Pacific region.
Respondents believe that employers have a responsibility to foster a sense of optimism, whether their teams are working from home or in the office and as businesses, and enhance human performance and productivity wherever their workers are, the report said.
Some of the key considerations for employers looking to explore a hybrid model are:
Office space is here to stay
Higher acceptance of remote working will lead to a more distributed and diverse workforce but this will come with its own challenges on productivity and efficiency. Office space will continue to hold its importance, in most instances as the optimal working environment.
Offices will be reimagined as social hubs
The office provides a culture that can’t be replicated via remote working and serves as a social hub for employees to connect on common goals, purpose and vision. Repurposed or redesigned work areas will be required to provide infrastructure for collaboration among the split teams of remote and on-site staff.
Future footprint will facilitate choices and flexibility
Work from home saw many employees enjoy greater flexibility and control on their personal and professional lives. Corporates will have to redefine their real estate footprint, leveraging distributed and liquid spaces. Home offices, co-working places, satellite offices and the office headquarter will all have to co-exist – leading to a truly hybrid office model.
“Offices will continue to play a central role in defining company culture, creating a shared purpose, and meeting employee needs for personal and professional fulfillment. However, COVID-19 will impact how the office looks and feels, as hybrid models comprising flexible work arrangements become mainstream,” says Dr Samantak Das, chief economist and head – Research & REIS, India, JLL.