Orient Magazine Issue 81 - April 2021 - Page 60


Shaping the Hybrid Work Future

By Samarth Kasturia , Director , Workplace & Strategic Consultancy , Knight Frank Asia-Pacific
The workplace conversation is a little like the tailored suit conversation – can you buy things off the rack ? Yes . Will they fit as well as a bespoke one ? Perhaps not .
The onset of the pandemic left businesses with little choice but to implement mass work-from-home arrangements that were the exception rather than the rule . And so , many of us had to create quick fixes ( dining tables becoming workstations , sometimes beds serving the same purpose ). While this arrangement may have served us for a while , remote working does take its toll on our ability to collaborate as the unplanned , organic interactions are missing .
While the height of the pandemic has passed for most markets , it looks like 2021 isn ' t going to be a sudden ' reversion to normal ' or a definitive entry into the ' new normal '. Even as offices reopen , COVID-19 has changed the way businesses begin to plan for new working models for the postpandemic years ahead . One of the most common emergent models of work has been the notion of hybrid working : a combination of in-office and remote working in varying proportions as a means for employees and employers to capture the benefits of both .
However , this approach requires careful consideration in how we plan our work and place in the future ; multiple variables need to be calibrated in the equation . Here are some things to think about when deciding whether to go ' hybrid ' or not – or even ' how hybrid ':
1 . Collective Creativity Whether you are based at home or have been slowly returning to the office , the level of collaboration and ideaexchange has been different , and in most cases , not as smooth as we are used to . There is a component of lag to be accounted for . Understanding this is a new medium to swing towards , there is definitely demand from employees to rethink how they can safely and productively collaborate in the future – in person .
2 . Focus Focus is harder to achieve ( or what the productivity pundits refer to as ' flow ') if there are constant distractions at home . Mentally , one would find it hard to switch to being ' at work ', and the mental ' flip switch ' that comes with the sanctity of the personal space to the workspace would not be achieved . This is hard to achieve in spaces not designed to be settings of work – especially in markets where residential area per capita is low , like Hong Kong and Malaysia . However , for those with more conducive work environments at home , productivity for individual work can increase . In a survey by EngageRocket collecting responses from Singapore workers in June last year , 64 % of respondents reported being as or more productive working from home than in the office .
3 . Culture and Camaraderie Workplaces do foster culture , create an environment of productivity and form relationships that are harder to develop & maintain remotely . Most of the workforce has been conditioned on relationships , engagement , and appreciation pre-2020 . Some have spent most of their careers using the personal touch to sell , manage , and grow . There is value in the personal when it comes to retaining talent , creating , and managing relationships and teams . While remote working can increase self-reported productivity levels , it can also lead to people feeling disengaged with the rest of their team and the company , as we ' ve seen from work with our own clients .
What does this mean for the office ?
Returning to the tailored suit analogy – tailored suits have a higher ability to adapt to your changing shape – they are easier to alter . Off-the-rack ones