In China, the shift to hybrid work is showing no sign of losing momentum. According to a study that surveyed over 2,000 Asia-Pacific business leaders, only 14 per cent of those in China expect all of their employees to work fully on-site in the long term. A key reason for companies offering such flexible schedules was attracting talent.
In turn, another study of employees in 27 economies by tech company Cisco found that 80.7 per cent of respondents want hybrid work, while 93.5 per cent report that their bosses are supportive of this desire. These numbers indicate a bright future for hybrid work in China.
However, managers often struggle with hybrid models, especially in guiding employees on what can be done at home versus what should be done at the office. Given that 86 per cent of all Chinese business leaders are in the process of adopting a hybrid work model, optimising this division of tasks is critical both for the success of individual companies, and the economy as a whole. So how can it be done?
Some might say it’s simple: just let rank-and-file employees and their immediate supervisors figure it out for themselves. However, my experience has taught me that employees often fail to maximise their productivity. It’s not because they’re lazy or deliberately inefficient; it’s just that they have never learned how to do hybrid work effectively, and don’t know what they don’t know.
Without guidance and professional development in this area, lower-level supervisors and middle managers in particular end up shoehorning traditional office-centric methods of working into hybrid settings. The result is lower productivity, engagement, and morale, harming company bottom lines and employee well-being and success.
There is one key filter for determining what to do and where: to maximise productivity, hybrid work models have to minimise employees’ commuting time. Trips to the office should be for a specific purpose that outweighs the significant costs – in time, money, and stress – involved in the commute.
A survey by office rental agency Hubble asking what respondents liked about working from home showed that 79 per cent of respondents enjoyed the lack of commute.
Chinese workers waste a lot of time commuting. A 2022 report from the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design found that many city dwellers in the largest cities in China commute over an hour each way – what it calls an “extreme commute”.
Moreover, commuting to work costs a lot of money. In their survey, Cisco found that Chinese workers saved an average of US$9,984 a year by working remotely.