While the Asia Pacific (APAC) region is making headway toward a hybrid future, leaders may be undermining the extent of change needed to operate in the new era of work.
Over half (52%) of APAC business leaders claim to be thriving in the hybrid workplace, although the same proportion of leaders (56%) either do not have a vision of what a hybrid work model in their organisation may look like in the long term or are still grappling with it, reveals a new report released by The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), a global provider of leadership development.
The report, “WORK 3.0: Reimagining Leadership in a Hybrid World”, which surveyed 2,200 leaders across 13 countries in APAC, offers a comprehensive look into the evolution of work and workplaces in the region.
Strong progress in transition toward Work 3.0, albeit at an uneven pace
The adoption of the hybrid work model, or Work 3.0, has nearly doubled in APAC, increasing from 41% pre-pandemic to 80% post-pandemic.
A ‘Hybrid, Office-First’ model has emerged as the most preferred mode of working, with over two in five (43%) leaders indicating that most employees in their organisation will be expected to work on site for a majority of the week.
“Across Asia Pacific we’re seeing an extremely mixed picture when it comes to the impact of the hybrid work environment on productivity, engagement, and well-being. There is no going back and there is no one size fits all. Fortunately, many leaders in the region appear to be stepping up to define a new vision for hybrid work and equip themselves with the right skills for Work 3.0. What is clear is that the success of hybrid depends on people and culture, rather than technology; on building and in some cases re-building cohesive relationships within and across teams. We can consider it a re-building of the heartware,” said Elisa Mallis, managing director and vice president of APAC, CCL.
However, countries across APAC differ in how far organisations are willing to embrace hybrid work.
Singapore came out on top as one of the strongest champions of the work flexibility agenda, where leaders are the least likely to expect employees to be fully onsite (1%) and the most open to giving employees complete flexibility to work anywhere at any time (31%).
In contrast, more than one in five leaders in the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia expect employees to be working in the office 100% of the time.
Reality check on the long-term sustainability of hybrid work
While the majority of leaders are embracing the benefits of Work 3.0, the report highlighted a need to stay clear of myths and focus on tackling emerging challenges head-on.
For instance, greater employee happiness and wellness was named as the top benefit of hybrid work, but nearly one in two leaders (46%) felt that an isolated workstyle has adversely impacted their social wellbeing.
Furthermore, the data suggests that hybrid work has a two-fold effect on productivity. While a hybrid model may considerably lift the productivity and engagement of only the top performers, it can have an adverse impact on ‘below average’ performers.
While an increasing number of countries and businesses pilot a four-day work week, CCL found that this trend has yet to catch on in APAC. Crystal-gazing into the next three to five years, only 2% of leaders felt that a short work week would become the preferred mode of working for their organisation.
Concluding that the success of hybrid work will hinge on people and culture, the Work 3.0 report examines how leaders must evolve alongside the new realities of the workplace. It articulates the five roles that hybrid leaders will need to embrace – the anchored imaginer who inspires commitment to a shared direction, the cat herder who drives collaboration without undermining flexibility, the risk-averse gambler who forges ahead while processes evolve, the wellness hunter who champions work flexibility, and the tech-savvy humanist who embraces technology but remains people-centric.