The Practice of an Hybrid Work Style and Working from Home in Hong Kong

In this post pandemic era, when commuting to work is made difficult due to ever increasing restrictions and precautions and with COVID-19 taking control over how we live daily, companies around the globe have adopted the practice of working from the comfort of their home in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus. 

Since the world has been affected for a longer than anticipated period of time, people have slowly begun to adopt this lifestyle, feeling more comfortable and increasingly becoming more efficient in doing business from their home office. To conduct business operations safely, employees in Hong Kong have been asked to manage their work and maintain discipline and decorum in their homes. 

Working from home has been proven to be more relaxing and does not affect the efficiency of an employee’s work and more companies are planning to carry on with this practice post-pandemic. Balancing this type of lifestyle is an art form and requires rules and regulations to be put in place before beginning. 

Prospect and Reality of Remote Work

Remote work was not that common in the past, especially in Hong Kong. It was often only considered to accommodate employees and their families in rare and specific medical conditions or special personal cases. 

The belief in non-seriousness and the absence of a manager at home made it impossible to ascertain the practices and productivity of an employee working from home. With technology always evolving and with government mandated regulations requiring the practice of employees working from home due to the pandemic, the reality that companies would no longer need a brick and mortar office by allowing employees the flexibility and choice in their work environment is now a possibility. 

In comparison to its peers, Hong Kong has chosen a very different approach to the epidemic. The city and its government has implemented a series of strict measures, including public gathering bans, halted schools, conducted special work arrangements for civil officials including working from home and remote working, and has made a request to the private sector and its organizations to make similar arrangements. All this despite the low numbers of covid cases, is due to their prevention over cure approach. 

A recent research conducted by Lingnan University of Hong Kong has concluded that over 80% of Hong Kong workers prefer to work from home at least 1 day a week and preferably more, out of their 5 working days when the pandemic is over1. With the uncertainty of the pandemic, it is beginning to look as though remote work away from the office is the new norm.

Employee Productivity Concerns

The idea of working from home would’ve been ignored and most employers would have balked at this idea if it was introduced less than a decade ago all because of a lack of understanding, statistics and a prejudice towards the practice. To understand how it may affect an individual’s performance, an international survey was conducted  by the World Bank2. The results showed that remote workers were comparatively the same and surprisingly sometimes more efficient and productive than in a traditional office environment. The stats were broken down as follows:

  • Employees at home worked 1.5 days (15 hours) more than an average office employee per month, which works out to around 18 days more per year
  • Employees working at home take more breaks but they perform better and work additional hours to compensate
  • Office employees tend to be unproductive for a median average of 36 minutes a day, lunch breaks excluded. Employees practicing work from home are unproductive for only 26 minutes
  • 23% of office-based employees said that they were distracted by their bosses/supervisors/colleagues which is less than the 5% of employees who said the same thing working at home

The most significant benefit of a hybrid work-from-home configuration is the flexibility and independence it provides to your staff. This leads to increased productivity, improved performance, and a happier staff. Allow your employees to have autonomy over their obligations, allowing them to set their own timetables and select how they wish to do their activities, while communicating the importance of accountability and dissent.

These statistics may reflect a biased support of the idea of working from home(as they are gathered from employees rather than employers) and do not reveal the full extent of how a company and its employees’ performance are truly reflected. It might not be the ideal choice for every employee or business but perhaps there are options that offer a compromise. Hybrid-working with hotdesks/flexible coworking memberships or downsizing offices to a flexible serviced office with team rotations might be the right choice for SMEs and MNCs.

What does it mean for employers?

With employees having a taste of what it would be like to work on their beds and sofas, it is safe to say that workplace culture will never be the same after the pandemic. Though this does not mean it’s all doom and gloom, as major banks and international conglomerates have realised they are able to cut massive costs and spending on their offices, extra contractors to clean the office, management fees and the overall extra spending of maintenance. Many have opted for serviced offices with smaller and more flexible contract terms that provide countless benefits. A few have even decided on having no offices at all!

Perhaps you would like to know more about what serviced offices are and what the hype and high expectations around them is all about. Let us guide you, have a look at what we have to offer here!

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