Hybrid Workplaces are Here to Stay – Are You Ready?

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When the Covid pandemic started and employees transited to work-from-home arrangements en masse, workplaces rushed to transform their SOPs and daily operations to ensure that businesses could continue to run smoothly with a mostly remote workforce. Employees’ daily work routines were disrupted, and many individuals had to wear multiple hats tending to the needs of their household and family members, while juggling work requirements.

Two years later, four out of five organizations plan to prioritize making flexible work arrangements permanent1, and many have upgraded digital infrastructure and implemented supporting policies on workplace practices and employee well-being to enable and sustain hybrid work. A study found that 78% of employees in Singapore were leaning towards a hybrid schedule, with only 12% preferring to work from the office all the time and 10% wanting to work remotely full-time2.

However, amidst concerns over the Great Resignation which has impacted workplaces globally, does the norm of hybrid work weaken employee loyalty3? What can organizations in Singapore learn from the 2021 Singapore Best Workplaces™ (“SG Best”)?

1. Reinforce a culture of trust

SG Best companies drew on their existing organization culture by leveraging the trust that they had built with their employees over time. This trust also allowed them the agility to quickly adjust to the new work arrangements. Leaders at SG Best companies put their people first and trusted them to do what was best, wherever they were working. They trusted that they would do what was best for their situation, and provided the autonomy and flexibility to take care of their personal and family needs.
At SG Best companies, 12% more employees were encouraged to balance their work and personal lives and 8% more felt that management trusted them to do a good job, as compared with those at other companies (including Great Place to Work-Certified™ companies) who had participated in this year’s survey (“SG Rest”).

People are encouraged to balance their work life and their personal life.

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Management trusts people to do a good job without watching over their shoulders.

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  • Cisco’s ‘Conscious Culture’ is a pact with its workforce that states how its goals to win in business and bring about a better world are aligned. It makes every individual accountable, empowered and expected to act in creating a positive and fulfilling workplace where every employee feels safe and can thrive. Its ‘People Deal’ is a relationship of give and take—employees expect the resources and support they need to succeed; and so equipped, Cisco expects them to take bold risks, innovate and collaborate, always with each other and its customers in mind.
  • Through the Covid-19 pandemic, employees at World Wide Technology were encouraged to put their families first. To alleviate stress, employees could block time out during the day to focus on children and not worry about work. Altering shifts also enabled parents to better manage their time as they juggled homeschooling or childcare with work.

2. Demonstrate authentic care for employees

While a confluence of different factors can impact an employee’s decision to stay or leave their company, their sense of well-being at work, including the presence of meaningful connections, is an important factor that can influence this decision. And this is even more critical in a remote/hybrid workplace where a sense of isolation and lack of interaction can negatively impact employee morale and trigger or reinforce the idea of leaving in search of greener pastures.

Among SG Best companies, 10% more employees felt that people cared about each other, as compared with those at SG Rest.

People care about each other here.

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  • Signify cares for its employees by consciously creating a supportive work environment. For example, it implemented policies to free up time for staff who might otherwise attend unnecessary meetings, discourages meetings during lunchtime to enable staff to spend time with family and have a good midday break, and allows protected time on Friday afternoons to finish individual tasks before the weekend.
  • Openspace Ventures believes that individuals are all people first, employees second. It recognizes that we do not always know what individuals are dealing with personally at any one moment—and especially with remote working and dispersed teams. It creates open forums and cultivates a close-knit, supportive atmosphere to encourage employees to be open with their needs and challenges, with the understanding that it will give them the support, time or flexibility they need, whenever they ask for it.

3. Develop Capability of People Leaders

The role of people leaders has become more critical in a hybrid workplace—they interact with their teams daily, and their actions and behaviors can make the difference between team members having a good or bad day at work. SG Best companies recognize the important role that they play, and 10% more employees at SG Best companies feel that management shows a sincere interest in them as a person. These companies are intentional in supporting their people leaders by providing online guides and training resources, as well as conducting virtual workshops and forums for them to learn, share and problem-solve together.

Management shows a sincere interest in me as a person, not just an employee.

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  • Salesforce encourages its people leaders to lead with trust and empathy. Monthly ‘All Leaders Calls’ are held to provide them with information and resources to support their teams, and Slack channels help them build a sense of community, and give them a way to ask questions and connect with peers. Regular ‘Lead the Way’ email updates help deliver relevant guidance and resources, and, peer-led roundtable sessions enable them to learn from and support one another in coming up with new solutions to managerial challenges.
  • At Ingram Micro, line leaders undergo training and are provided with resources such as ‘Connect through Conversations’, to guide them in conducting quality, engaging and thoughtful 1:1s with every associate. It views these frequent connections as critical to driving a sense of purpose and ensure the well-being of every associate.

Now, as more companies establish hybrid work as a permanent arrangement, these three key factors underpin a successful transition—the ability to reinforce a culture of trust and allow employees flexibility to manage their work-life needs, demonstrating authentic care, and equipping people leaders with the knowledge and skills to manage and support their teams.

Here are some things to consider when preparing for a hybrid workplace:

To learn more about the 2021 Singapore Best Workplaces™, click here.

1. S’pore firms confident despite Omicron wave, plan to make hybrid work permanent, The Straits Times, updated 4 Feb 2022.

2. Hello to Hybrid – The modern Singapore workforce, Singapore Business Review, Charlton Media Group, assessed on 9 Feb 2022.

3. Commentary: Bosses beware – hybrid work weakens employee loyalty, CNA, updated 8 Feb 2022.

Evelyn Kwek

Evelyn is the Managing Director for Great Place to Work®️ in ASEAN and ANZ. Heading the expansion of Great Place to Work®️ offices in ASEAN, Evelyn is convinced that just as the region is growing exponentially on the economic front, the work of building great workplaces FOR ALL™ must go in tandem with economic growth.

A proud mother of 3, Evelyn takes parenting very seriously – she is strict yet giving, result-focused yet generous. Together with husband Roland, they relish exploring new cultures and beautiful places of the world, usually on leisurely self-drive holidays, before the days of Covid.

Pamela Sng

Pamela is our Senior Consultant and Research Lead for Great Place to Work® ASEAN and ANZ. She has over two decades of consulting and policy experience helping organizations in their journey to become fair and progressive employers. She believes that every organization has the potential to be a great workplace, and works with data to distil insights and develop resources to help them. When she’s not burrowing down the rabbit hole of numbers and words, she’s probably immersed in a new K-drama or catching up with friends over a virtual drinks session.

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To be eligible for the World’s Best Workplaces list, a company must apply and be named to a minimum of 5 national Best Workplaces lists within our current 58 countries, have 5,000 employees or more worldwide, and at least 40% of the company’s workforce (or 5,000 employees) must be based outside of the home country. Extra points are given based on the number of countries where a company surveys employees with the Great Place to Work Trust Index©, and the percentage of a company’s workforce represented by all Great Place to Work surveys globally. Candidates for the 2017 Worlds Best Workplaces list will have appeared on national workplaces lists published in September 2016 through August 2017.