The popularity of hybrid working in Viet Nam and the Asia Pacific region is likely to accelerate as Generation Z – those born between 1997 and 2012 – accounts for a larger percentage of the working-age population, experts said.
Gen Z, which will reach one billion by 2030, is the first generation of digital natives. They expect a seamless connection between the physical and the digital, which is also what allows hybrid working to flourish.
A report by Cushman & Wakefield titled "Asia Pacific Office of the Future Revisited" revealed that the majority of office workers in Asia Pacific, including Viet Nam, want to be more flexible in the way they work. Hybrid working is not a new concept, but it was relatively foreign to the masses before the COVID-19 virus hit.
A hybrid office is similar to a flexible space, which provides employees with a variety of different places and ways to work and can accommodate the flexible schedule of all teams. Hybrid spaces offer hot desks, co-working areas, and focused booths for any type of tasks and work preferences that employees can have. This is quite different from traditional offices with fixed workstations and cubicles, the company said.
A JLL Workforce Preferences Barometer publication found that most office workers have chosen hybrid as their preferred way of working at the moment. This practice has gained popularity quickly to the extent that those who aspire to adopt this workstyle have made it a part of their daily routine.
Similar to other countries, the hybrid work model is progressively gaining popularity in Viet Nam, particularly in light of the social distancing measures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Will Tran, national head – tenant representation, office leasing advisory, JLL Vietnam, stated that, "a hybrid workplace is widely explored in regional markets, and MNCs are beginning to explore whether hybrid can be applied to Viet Nam. As much as it should be considered for Viet Nam office portfolios, it is also equally important to note Viet Nam's pandemic resilience, recovery and positive economic outlook in order to make decisions on long-term real estate footprint and cost."
Although a hybrid office is gaining acceptance, some worry about its development.
They said that the culture of presenteeism, limited housing space, and unstable network connections are some of the factors slowing down the trend of hybrid working in the country.
Trang Bui, general manager of Cushman & Wakefield Vietnam, emphasises the major challenges of the hybrid model: "Despite the surprising levels of productivity, many occupiers noted that increased remote work has created a perceived cost in long-term productivity, corporate culture, innovation and creativity. The office is still an essential tool in retaining and recruiting talent and communicates a company's brand and culture. Amenities are now key differentiators, evolving into spaces for employees to work, socialise and connect with colleagues."
For older generations, the new hybrid model might take quite some time to stick. The traditional office was designed to be functional, with team members sitting next to each other, and physical attendance counting towards performance.
In terms of productivity, the feeling of being more productive at home for heads-down work keeps growing among remote workers. Although this evolution can be perceived as good news for corporate performance, it also poses a sustained risk in terms of the ability to create social value and unite the workforce around a shared purpose and vision. The four profiles of office workers including office workers, momeworkers, 'regular hybrid' workers and 'hyper hybrid' workersreveal that, if flexibility in the place of work is key to empowerment, then having to constantly adapt to new work environments raises significant risks in terms of mental wellbeing. Half of employees claimed they missed social interactions and felt that belonging to a community was important. In this fast-growing world, this is a workstyle which is both full of promises and challenges in terms of an individual's mental state and the onus is on the employer to take care of the employee's wellbeing. — VNS
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