Due to the global pandemic, workplaces around the APAC region have had to rethink their future work strategies. One major issue for business leaders moving forward will be providing true flexibility arrangements and best practices for employees, as one size does not fit all.

Failing to get this right could result in adverse consequences, as many employees adjusted to the massive shift to remote work and flexibility is now mostly considered the norm.

Michael Page’s Talent Trends 2022 The Great X report, which compiled the responses of over 5,500 businesses and 15,000 employees across 12 markets in APAC, revealed that 66% of surveyed employees in Malaysia preferred a combination of working remotely and in a workplace – that is, in favour of blended flexibility and having a choice.

Most candidates also said that they would be seeking a hybrid work arrangement when they on the search for a new job.

Related: The future of work in Asia

“There was already a lot of discussion about the future of work before COVID,” says Anthony Thompson, Regional Managing Director, Asia Pacific at PageGroup. “With lockdowns and restrictions, we were forced to learn to really understand our business and how people might operate effectively when they were not in offices all the time, and that has been beneficial. We’ve seen that some people have operated very effectively and productively working from home most of the time, while others have struggled.”

It is a complex problem with no easy solutions, as the feasibility of remote work is dependent not only an individual’s personality and personal circumstances, but also on the sector and role. It might not be practical, for instance, for someone who is responsible for running a factory to expect to work from home. In contrast, software engineers might find that they are more productive working in a quiet environment at home.

“Companies that are still operating in traditional, pre-COVID ways are probably the ones finding it challenging to compete for talent,” says Nic Chambers, Managing Director, Michael Page Malaysia. “We were thrown into the COVID-19 world where entire companies went into remote work overnight, and guess what? Business continued. Therefore, it is essential that companies learn to trust their employees as hybrid work models are here to stay.”

Related: Top 10 highest paying jobs in Malaysia for 2022

For companies and its leaders to succeed with workplace flexibility, Thompson says it is about empowering employees to decide how and when they want to work. “One of the misconceptions about hybrid work is that everyone wants to work from home. More than ever, what employees want now is to have a choice.

“Leaders and managers will need to communicate regularly to find out what works best for individuals and teams,” he emphasises.

He said he expects to see most APAC markets adopt a blended approach to work. “I don’t think that we’ve seen the end of the office. We’re seeing many people who really want to be back in the office and having that interaction again,” he noted.

Discover the latest in our 2022 Talent Trends report, The Great X: This survey report covers what hiring professionals need to know to address talent attraction and employee retention for the year ahead. It also highlights a change of times in the hiring outlook as job candidates and employees now prioritise their well-being more than ever. Download our report to find out more.

Read more:
How to manage a remote team effectively 
How HR needs to evolve to support the future of work
The importance of good communication in the workplace

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