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Employees across Asia Pacific have adapted to extensive work-from-home arrangements, but most are eager to return to the office, according to JLL’s latest report. 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic across APAC, an average of 68% of employees surveyed regionally worked from home. A total of 61% of them missed going to the office and would favour a hybrid model combining more flexible work arrangements in the future, while workers Hong Kong, along with Japan and Mainland China employees missed the personal/professional connection most. 

Millennials said they missed the office more than other age groups (66%) and highlighted the office experience's benefits: Human interactions, professional environment and a place for focused work. 

In other findings, eight out of ten (81%) of Millennials strongly agreed that they felt technology ready and 52% said they were more productive working from home. However, some could not afford accommodation with the space and amenities vital for successful homeworking. 

The evolving expectations of employees for hybrid work arrangements will have clear implications for corporate real estate in establishing a shared purpose and culture, says JLL. 

Respondents believe that employers have a responsibility to foster a sense of optimism, whether their teams are working from home or in the office. 

“Offices will continue to play a central role in defining company culture, creating a shared purpose, and meeting employee needs for personal and professional fulfilment. However, COVID-19 will impact how the office looks and feels, as hybrid models comprising flexible work arrangements become mainstream,” says Roddy Allan, chief research officer, Asia Pacific, JLL. 

Key considerations for employers exploring a hybrid model include: 

  • The office space is here to stayHigher acceptance of remote working will lead to a more distributed and diverse workforce but this will come with its own challenges on productivity and efficiency. Office space will continue to hold its importance, in most instances as the optimal working environment. 
  • Offices will be reimagined as social hubsThe office provides a culture that can’t be replicated via remote working and serves as a social hub for employees to connect on common goals, purpose and vision. Repurposed or redesigned work areas will be required to provide infrastructure for collaboration among the split teams of remote and on-site staff. 
  • Future footprint will facilitate choices and flexibilityWork from home saw many employees enjoy greater flexibility and control in their personal and professional lives. Corporates will have to redefine their real estate footprint, and operate with home offices, co- working places, satellite offices and the office HQ will all have to co-exist – leading to a truly hybrid office model. 

Nelson Wong, head of research at JLL for Greater China, said,” Office life is particularly important in most of Asia Pacific, where employees generally live in smaller spaces. Employees have said that the office remains the core space in which their professional needs are met. Our survey found that employees in Hong Kong, the mainland China and Japan missed the personal/professional distinction most. However, how the office looks and feels will be forever changed post-COVID-19. Corporates planning to expand their remote working programmes need to evaluate where the office fits in the employee experience model and demands. The office is here to stay, but so is a greater acceptance of remote working.” 

JLL’s survey, Home and away: the new hybrid workplace?, was based on the views of 1500 employees from five countries across Asia Pacific – Australia, China, India, Japan and Singapore.