Only 20 percent of the workforce in the Philippines favor a return to the Work From Office (WFO) model, while a large majority at 80 percent prefer a hybrid or remote workplace arrangement, according to a survey.
Sprout Solutions, a Filipino Software as as a Service company, looked into how the workplace will evolve in the next normal via a study called Going Hybrid: The Future of Work. The study has a Philippine scope with 485 respondents from HR departments and 8,194 employes.
Study results showed that 20 percent of HR professionals wanted a return to the WFO model, and 80 percent of HR respondents wanted a Hybrid or Remote workplace. Among the employees, 9 percent wanted to report back to work at the office while 91 percent wanted Hybrid or Remote.
The study also showed that 47 percent of WFO managers want to adopt the hybrid model; 62.2 percent of WFO leaders see hybrid or remote work as the future; and, 42.96 percent on-site employees feel enthusiastic about adopting a hybrid model.
Interestingly, 64.6 percent of HR admins and managers need help to understand how to make a hybrid setup work, while 70.71 percent of remote employees love their current remote setup but only 43.54 percent feel engaged.
The study tried to offer an explanation stating that while at first glance, this may seem counterintuitive, it is also possible that this sentiment could be stemming from a love of work and the flexibility to work on one’s own terms — but the lack of support to make it sustainable in the long term.
“Virtual teams are no longer able to have conversations with fellow teammates in the break room or in their shared office space. As employees work remotely, they need to put forth a more concentrated effort to engage with others. And when these needs aren’t met, working from home could lead to isolation, feelings of unhappiness, and a diminishing of passion towards company goals. WFH leaders are expected to meet their virtual teams halfway, by considering activities that could contribute to team building and relationship development,” the study stated.
The study findings also showed that the patchwork of the “great return” is stitched together with some version of remote work post-pandemic, while the rest of the fabric is hybrid.
WFO leaders want to maximize productivity at all costs. Even though optimizing team efficiency doesn’t solely translate to a hybrid office, they acknowledge that remote work is here to stay.
Meanwhile, WFO employees value their safety above all else. They want their managers to be involved in keeping them motivated, and prefer hybrid work from their current setup.
Majority or 74 percent of on-site admins and managers are currently requiring or will make it mandatory for their employees to get vaccinated to go to the office.
More than half of our respondents (58.9%) shared that they provide targeted incentives for WFO employees. These benefits extend beyond protection from COVID-19.
In addition, 75 percent of companies said they provide mental health support to WFO employees to build resilience and prevent on-site work stress during the pandemic.
“The sentiments of employees stem from a love of work and the flexibility to work on one’s own terms, but feel that there is a lack of support to make it sustainable in the long term. Then, as the workplace landscape adjusts to the hybrid future, HR teams need to re-evaluate and redefine current roles rather than to simply cherry-pick which roles can be done remotely. What they can do is to centralize support functions and make output-based work the primary guiding principle of their organization,” said Sprout Solutions Chief People and Customer Officer Arlene De Castro.
While working remotely, teams are no longer able to have those serendipitous conversations or just hang out during breaks, so there needs to be a focused effort to engage with others. “When these needs aren’t met, working from home could lead to isolation, feelings of unhappiness, and a diminishing of passion towards company goals. Leaders are expected to meet their virtual teams halfway, by considering activities that could contribute to team building and relationship development,” De Castro adds.
These insights show that employee behavior is starting to change as people realize the benefits of remote work. Based on the findings of this research, the current trends are clear: office workers want a hybrid model, but they also don’t want to lose out on the opportunity to connect and collaborate. In particular, WFO teams want to embrace change because the home environment empowers people to be flexible and to manage their day autonomously.
As for those who want to return to the physical office, 95 percent say they feel safe upon their return to the office space, but they want to feel safer. This entails providing the proper compensation and benefits that make WFO much easier to bear, i.e., free PPEs, transportation allowance, hazard pay, free parking, and free COVID-19 tests.
To ease apprehensions, more than half or 60 percent of the HR executive respondents share that they provide targeted incentives for WFO employees. These benefits extend beyond protection from COVID-19. Vaccination, while not mandatory by government, is mostly required by management, with 73.91 percent of the respondents saying that they do/will require vaccinations, subject to religious and/or medical reasons.
As hybrid work is growing, the study also identified four emerging models of hybrid. One is Remote hybrid, which is made up of remote employees that may report to a physical office when necessary.
The other model is In-Person Hybrid, which consists of employees that work at a physical office but have the option to work remotely Mixed Hybrid is split into a fully remote and in-office workspace Split Hybrid operates on a shifting schedule: for example, WFO on M/W/F & WFH on T/TH.
The third model is Mixed hybrid, a split into a fully remote and in-office workspace. The last model is a Split hybrid where people operate on a shifting schedule. For example, WFO on M/W/F & WFH on T/TH.
The survey also showed that 50.8 percent of WFH leaders prefer some form of hybrid set up but mostly remote and fewer days in office, while 30.40 percent prefer full time remote with occasional in-person meetings and gathering, and only 18.8 percent favor back to the office once the pandemic is really under control.
“To make this effective, companies need to recalibrate their tech stack & benefits portfolio. Tech plays a significant role in making a hybrid setup work. With the right remote work tech stack, admins and managers can track employee productivity and performance better. The type, amount, and category that companies will use will depend on their size, industry, and budget. A successful remote work setup should consider having communication, remote collaboration, cloud storage, remote work management, and workflow management tools at their disposal,” De Castro said.
Sprout Solutions survey includes companies from various sectors, such BPO, consumer goods, professional services, education, energy and utilities, financial and insurance, government, healthcare, tourism, IT, manufacturing, media and entertainment, public service and social work, raw and construction materials, real estate, NGOs, retail and distribution, and transportation and logistics.
Sprout Solutions has an ecosystem of products and services to help companies manage their hybrid workflow, including digitizing traditional HR functions such as payroll and timekeeping, recruitment and employee engagement. It also has a tool called Performance + which is a unique Performance Management system that is integrated with a Learning Management system that aligns growth and development performance appraisals towards the company’s business goals.