Flexible Work Arrangements Across Asia

The pandemic, technology advances and a millennial generation (born 1983 to 2000) seeking work-life integration over work-life balance, are all combining to help create a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ where flexible work arrangements and hybrid workplaces are becoming the new norm throughout Asia…

It’s not often that you’ll see every country in the Asian region in total agreement. But on the topic of flexible working arrangements all Asians speak with one loud voice.

It’s here to stay. Though there are some interesting regional variations.

In a comprehensive 2021 study conducted by SEEK Asia, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and The Network, a mere 7 per cent of Asia’s workforce indicated they wanted to commit to a completely onsite work arrangement in future.

The majority of Asians surveyed said they prefer to work two to three days remotely every week, with 49 percent from the Philippines preferring to go full-monty remote. This all-in approach could have been due to a fast-rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country at that time however.

In Hong Kong, 91 percent said they actually preferred on site working arrangements. The reason for this statistical glitch might have been due to HK housing, which doesn’t allow a home office.

A raft of other studies however confirm the region’s inevitable move to flexible working arrangements.


Flexible working arrangements are now permanent

In 2021 a Cigna 360 Well-Being Survey: The State of Work polled over 18,000 individuals in 21 markets worldwide. Half of respondents from Hong Kong in this particular study preferred to be able to work from home, while Singapore’s work-from-home cohort polled strongly at 67%.

Among Asia-Pacific respondents overall in the Cigna study, 45% of respondents cited less time spent on commuting as the main benefit of remote work. This was followed by better work-life balance (31%) and having more time with family and friends (26%).

With flexible workplaces becoming more popular, Asian employers were quick to come on board. They recognised immediately that flexible work arrangements were a powerful baseline talent retention and attraction tool, as well as an effective means to improve employee engagement and productivity.

The rise and rise of flexible working arrangements, including remote working, will not only change lives and the world of work, but it will also change Asia’s cities. The transformation has already begun.


Flexible working arrangements will change the Asian way of life

According to Tay Huey Ying, head of research and consultancy in Singapore for JLL, rising rents and shrinking leasing opportunities are driving a growing number of employers to explore the option of maintaining a small presence in the Central Business District (CBD) while relocating the rest of their operations outside it.

That trend is a direct result of the fact that flexible working conditions allow employees to live further from central business districts to access affordable housing as well as balance ongoing caring and family responsibilities, and more. So many human advantages.


Flexible working arrangements are changing workplaces

In addition to changing cityscapes. FWA are also fundamentally changing the way we work and the way our offices are configured.

The traditional structured workplace where employees toil from 9am to 6pm every weekday is fast disappearing. Today, artificial intelligence (AI), advanced telecommunications and a yearning for work-life balance are all part of a shift towards more flexible work patterns around the world.

To millennials, the lines between work, socialisation and recreation have become increasingly blurred, with many spending at least eight to 10 hours in the workplace. In a physical sense, this has contributed to the emergence of a hybrid workspace which allows for the integration of other aspects of daily life.


Flexible working arrangements and the rise of the hybrid workplace

The hybrid workplace is defined as a business model combining remote work with office work. It typically includes the onsite presence of a core group, while others are free to come and go as they please, within reason.

The hybrid workplace generally allows employees the opportunity to fit work around their lives, rather than structuring work around fixed hours logged into an office. For many employees (and employers) it’s an optimal balance of productive work with reduced stress and less commuting.

And it’s fast becoming the new face of Asia at work.


Are you interested in flexible or remote work opportunities across Asia? Or are you an employer seeking staff – permanent, casual or remote? CXC are global workforce management specialists with experts on the ground throughout Asia. Like to find out more? Don’t hesitate to contact us!