Hybrid work, Flexible work, remote working

While employees are reporting positive impacts of hybrid work, many see the need for greater trust — with 65% saying micromanaging has increased with remote work.

While most people would generally equate 'hybrid work' to being able to work from home, the concept itself is far more extensive. Apart from just working from the office or home, hybrid work allows employees to work from anywhere they choose.

Given its extensiveness the process of implementing hybrid work would call for a rethink on:

  • Employee experience
  • An inclusive culture
  • Employee wellbeing
  • Trust and leadership

Utilising technology as an enabler in each of these elements would be one of the key pieces of the puzzle to make this a success, a new study by Cisco has shown. 

The Cisco Global Hybrid Work Study 2022, launched in a media briefing attended by HRO on Wednesday (18 May 2022)involved 28,000 full-time employees across 27 markets. 

Across ASEAN, 65% of employees believed that their quality of work has improved while working hybrid, with 64% indicating an improvement in productivity as well. A similar amount of respondents (66%) also noted development in job knowledge and skills.

In Singapore specifically, the numbers were slightly lower:

  • 56% of employees believe that their quality of work has improved.
  • 60% believe that productivity has enhanced.

Interestingly, over three-quarters of employees in ASEAN (80%) felt that their role can now be performed as successfully remotely as in the office, while 76% of employees in Singapore agreed.

Employees believe hybrid work has improved their holistic employee wellbeing

Amongst the benefits observed, hybrid work allows employees to get their time back — 73% of ASEAN respondents saved over four hours a week. Going further, 32% even saved over eight hours. With the time saved on reduced or no commuting, and unplanned office interactions, 65% were able to reinvest extra time by spending it with family, friends, and pets.

The numbers remained relatively similar in Singapore, specifically with 70% saving over four hours, and 28% saving over eight. 

Overall, employees surveyed noted that hybrid work has improved employee wellbeing holistically, namely: 

  1. Social wellbeing
  2. Physical wellbeing
  3. Emotional wellbeing
  4. Financial wellbeing
  5. Mental wellbeing

Looking at the social aspect, 86% of ASEAN respondents noted improved relationships with family, and 55% for relationships with friends. (Singapore: 74%, 50%).

In terms of health, 68% in ASEAN observed better physical wellbeing — 77% ate healthier, 79% exercised more, and 78% were physically fitter. Reflecting a similar trend, 72% of those in Singapore agreed to believing that their physical fitness has improved. 

Financially, 86% of employees across ASEAN noticed that they saved money, with average savings reaching to over US$7,462.52 a year, or US$143.51 a week. This approximately meant a 14.5% average increase in savings. 

Specifically, the top three areas for saving were: 

  • Commuting costs (88%)
  • Food and entertainment (75%)
  • Lifestyle and social activities (60%)

In the last two areas of wellbeing, the study saw improved mental wellbeing (69%) and emotional wellbeing (59%) of ASEAN employees. Close to six in 10 respondents (59%) also indicated that their stress levels have decreased. 

Overall, 87% admitted that they are happier, and 82% noted improved work-life balance. The key drivers for improvement cited were more flexible work schedules (66%) and reduced commuting time (54%).

Another point the study highlighted is that hybrid work is now preferred by many employees across all markets:

  • Singapore – 71%
  • Malaysia – 74%
  • Indonesia – 84%
  • Vietnam – 76%
  • Thailand – 69%
  • The Philippines – 60%

The support for hybrid work extends beyond employees as well — with 90% of employees saying their employers have been supportive of hybrid working. In particular, 46% said their employers have been supportive, while 44% said their employers have been very supportive.

And all of the above bode well for employers, with 65% of ASEAN respondents less likely to leave and look for a new role.

On the other hand, 57% say those in the office will see more career growth than remote workers.

More needs to be done in building trust, engagement, and inclusion

Despite the positive findings, the report urged that "more needs to be done to make hybrid work successful in the long run". Only 28% surveyed feel their organisation is very prepared for hybrid work, it added.

When it comes to trust, about four in 10 (43%) respondents do not believe their colleagues can be trusted to work remotely. n the same vein, 65% think micromanaging has increased with remote work.

On a more positive note, however, 73% believe their manager trusts them to be productive when working remotely.

Looking at employee engagement and inclusion, respondents are of the opinion that those fully remote will have challenges engaging in work and with colleagues, compared to those who come into the office. Specifically, 67% feel it will be challenging to engage with colleagues, with 66% believing it will be challenging to engage with their organisation.

Anupam Trehan, Senior Director, People & Communities, Cisco APJC, affirms: "Leaders and companies need to commit to actions that go a long way in retaining their people – listening, building trust, and leading with empathy, flexibility, and fairness."

Overall, employees are acknowledging that the future of work would be hybrid, with nearly three-quarters of employees in ASEAN (72%) wanting a combination of a remote and in-office hybrid working model in the future, compared to a fully remote (23%) and fully in-office (5%) experience.

In Singapore, the numbers are similar — respondents in the city-state want a combination of a remote and in-office hybrid working model in the future, compared to a fully remote (25%) and fully in-office (4%) experience.


Image / Cisco Global Hybrid Work Study 2022

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