Companies adjusting to rising hybrid workplace sentiment

November 11, 2022 | 10:01
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Hybrid working is gaining traction in Vietnam’s labour market, meaning altered work patterns for the market and considerations over new office functions.

At the WebexOne 2022 webinar on October 25-26, Jeetu Patel, EVP and general manager of Cisco Security and Collaboration, stated that the next generation of hybrid work is going to require major investments in four key areas.

“The first one is a fundamental reimagining of the workspace itself, the physical facility. Next is what a flexible work style feels like because different people will have different needs, and how do you go out and give flexibility to people? Third, what is the customer experience like? And then lastly is security and manageability,” Patel said.

Companies adjusting to rising hybrid workplace sentiment
Companies adjusting to rising hybrid workplace sentiment

Patel noted that many organisations around the world are largely moving to much more of a hybrid model. “Sometimes people are working from home, sometimes in an office, and sometimes somewhere in the middle. We’re kind of squarely in the third phase of this mixed mode of working,” he added.

According to CBRE’s 2022 Asia-Pacific Office Occupier Survey published earlier in the year, even when workers returned to the office as a result of loosening pandemic restrictions, the majority of Asia-Pacific enterprises plan to keep hybrid working arrangements. A poll of more than 150 such organisations indicated that over 60 per cent anticipate some type of hybrid working, ranging from an equal mix of office and remote work (28 per cent), to predominantly office work (24 per cent), to largely/fully remote (5 per cent).

Despina Katsikakis, executive partner and global lead of Total Workplace at Cushman & Wakefield stated, “If employers and employees learned anything during the global pandemic, it’s that work can be effectively performed in spaces beyond the traditional office, and employees often seek more choice in their work environments after going through this experience. Businesses have proven they can not only survive, but even thrive with a dispersed office workforce.”

This raises the issue of altering the physical space and conventional working practices. In Vietnam, several multinationals such as Savills Vietnam, Baemin, and ManpowerGroup Vietnam have converted to hybrid working to meet the requirements of their staff.

At Baemin, employees may choose to work wherever they feel most comfortable. This approach also permits workers to start and end work in a flexible manner to accommodate individual circumstances and requirements. Baemin offers and distributes equipment and online working software to those who prefer to work remotely so that they may do their job comfortably and effectively.

Baemin Vietnam’s managing director Jinwoo Song said, “The hybrid working model enables working mothers to spend more time with their children. Employees can balance their personal and professional lives, and a voracious reader who can save time by not moving can read more books, for example. With this modification, Baemin employees may live their lives to the fullest and continue their objective to make people’s lives simpler and more convenient.”

It is not just a case of letting workers stay at home, however – the company needs to put significant effort into equipment and new technology, while also considering the workspace in terms of size, functions, and even location.

Talking to VIR, Viva Land CEO Eddie Lim said, “People might think that hybrid workplaces are transformed from ordinary offices just by the application of various technologies. Technologies are eventually needed to serve a purpose, but people should be clear about their ultimate needs.”

Tu Thi Hong An, senior director of the leasing department at Savills Ho Chi Minh, said that there are over 70 suppliers and more than 100 locations for flexible offices that are good for hybrid working in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. This is about 5.6 per cent of the total rentable office space on the market.

“The growth rate of this section of the office market is directly tied to several factors. First, the expansion of foreign direct investment results in the development of numerous new firms searching for office space in Vietnam. The rate of expansion of local businesses with the demand for new establishments also rises,” said Hong An.

In the first quarter of 2022, more than 8,500 new enterprises were established in Ho Chi Minh City, a 35 per cent increase over the same time in 2021; traditional office rentals have traditionally remained expensive. This is because occupancy rates continue to exceed 93 per cent, making it costly to pick a conventional office, Hong An noted.

While it can be anticipated that this category will have fast growth in the near future, Hong An said one of the problems inhibiting the growth of flexible offices is the lack of office supply, which results in high rental prices. This also hinders the development of affordable/flexible office hubs.

In particular, the new office of the UK-based Standard Chartered in Hanoi has drawn on the most up-to-date workspace trends and colleague feedback from Vietnam and around the world, using SmartSpace software that optimises office spaces and their usability.

Michele Wee, CEO of Standard Chartered Vietnam shared, “Employee wellbeing is always one of our utmost priorities. Furthermore, as one of the world’s most sustainable banks, we have been taking more eco-conscious steps towards net-zero; and selecting a building with the same incredible sustainability ambitions is only natural. Building on the worldwide movement for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly built space, our branch and office at Level 1 and Level 3 are also certified under the LEED and WELL rating systems.”

In addition, employees are now made aware of air quality through real-time indoor air quality monitoring. In order to provide an enhanced working experience for colleagues, the office has been designed to provide dedicated Connect Zones, a mother’s room, first aid room, and a wellness room, which colleagues are encouraged to use for light exercise and meditation.

Jeetu Patel-EVP and general manager Cisco Security and Collaboration

Companies adjusting to rising hybrid workplace sentiment

Hybrid work is both different and harder than how we worked before. Regardless of job function – frontline worker, knowledge worker, IT admin, or contact centre agent – people expect and deserve a fantastic experience no matter where or how they work.

In reality, the hybrid workplace goes beyond the technology aspect. It’s not just about collaboration technology, it’s also about connectivity and networking. That’s pretty important, and so is security and privacy and manageability in all of those dimensions.

This problem of how people will adjust to this new norm of hybrid work cannot be solved alone. It cannot be an isolated kind of solution that has to be solved as a combination between IT for technology, HR for culture, and then the facility side for space planning – all those three have to come together for that to be effectively solved.

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By Quynh Trang

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