October 19, 2021 | 15:27 GMT+7

Hybrid workplaces offer the best of both worlds

A hybrid workplace is a new workplace model that provides comfort and unlocks creativity while protecting employees’ health during the pandemic. As measures to curb the pandemic are being lifted, companies around Vietnam are trying to come to grips with what a modern workspace should look like.

Mr. Adrien Bizouard, Country Manager of Robert Walters Vietnam.
Mr. Adrien Bizouard, Country Manager of Robert Walters Vietnam.

What is a hybrid workplace?

Since 2020, many organizations in Vietnam have allowed their staff to work from home to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Remote working, however, is not a perfect fit for organizations in certain business lines, forcing them to adopt new working models.

A resounding 78 per cent of respondents to a Robert Walters survey favor hybrid working and said employers could implement the model. Moreover, 72 per cent feel that a combination of remote and office working would improve productivity. These findings suggest that hybrid workplaces could gradually come to dominate the world of work with time.

Hybrid workplaces offer organizations and employees an ideal mix of office and remote working, calibrated to the needs of the company and the staff. Similar to how it was done in the US, Europe, and Japan as well as neighboring countries like Indonesia and Thailand, Vietnamese companies should look into what hybrid working is and how it can fit the preferences of their employees. They will need to map out a proper framework and internal regulations and then clearly communicate these to employees, as there is a chance some employees may not be in favor of hybrid working.

Most respondents want to return to the office because they do not want to always be at home. Some do not have a conducive working environment at home, and they miss social interactions with colleagues. Sixteen per cent also reported lower levels of motivation when working from home, according to a LinkedIn survey.

At the same time, the main reasons people prefer working from home include saving commuting time to the office, the flexibility to run errands when needed, and spending more time with family without having to take time off work.

Some companies are now implementing well-balanced hybrid working models adjusted to the nature of their business, and they are expected to be followed by others adopting and evolving the model. Enterprises should at least look into their options, lest they miss out on a key competitive advantage.

Opportunities for organizations and employees

Hybrid workplaces bring more opportunities for organizations and employees in the larger cities of Vietnam, especially Ho Chi Minh City. The model is also emerging as an important talent attraction and retention tool. Employers valued for their flexibility will have the pick of the new generation of promising employees who value this trait above all else.

Mr. Adrien Bizouard, Country Manager of Robert Walters Vietnam, said that in the LinkedIn survey, 61 per cent of employees thought that their organization had adopted hybrid working perfectly. “One key advantage of adopting the hybrid working model will be in attracting new talent,” he explained. “Once an organization has hired people, they need to take care of retaining them, which depends on how well they can meet their personal needs and growth ambitions. Adopting the hybrid workplace model shows employees that the organization is interested in improving the working culture and environment to create a better space.”

The new model also gives employers new ways to listen to and empower employees by meeting a wider range of their needs and giving them more room to work independently and more efficiently.

Mr. Bizouard added that employers should seize hybrid workplaces as an opportunity to show employees that the organization is empathic and responsive to their requirements.

Challenges in transformation

There are two main challenges that most organizations have to face while changing from an office-based to a hybrid workplace model. The first is technology. While most organizations had been using mobile devices for three or four years before the pandemic arrived last year and could adapt effortlessly, many others were unable to keep up. Hybrid working may require substantial technological evolution on the part of some employers.

The second challenge is related to human resources. The new generation of employees in Vietnam are flexible, and they have experienced work from home for a while now. Eighty per cent of employees do not feel comfortable working fully from home, however, because there is no work environment, company vibe, interaction with managers, social interaction, or after-hours activities with colleagues. It will be difficult for most Vietnamese employers to manage this, especially big organizations. Small organizations, meanwhile, must deal with employees’ mental well-being by providing them with free therapy sessions, personal training, and discussions with managers.

Each company will take a different tack, and team leaders will need to work closely with the human resources (HR) department to identify appropriate solutions while listening to employees. This will help organizations address areas where they are lacking, to create a better hybrid workplace.