Employees across India have adapted to work from home arrangements throughout the COVID-19 crisis, but the majority will welcome a return to the office. According to new data published by JLL, 82% of office employees surveyed in India have missed working from office, citing a lack of personal interaction as the primary factor behind this sentiment. The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has transitioned 66% of the surveyed employees in India into work from home arrangements, said JLL’s newly released Asia Pacific report Home and away: the new hybrid workplace?.
The desire of India-based professionals to return to the office outpaces, the regional average, according to JLL’s regional survey of 1,500 employees at major corporations in five Asia Pacific markets. Regionally, 61% of total respondents said they missed going to the office which is below the percentage recorded in India. However, both in India and across Asia Pacific, employees indicated that they would favour a hybrid model combining more flexible work arrangements in the future. JLL’s new Asia Pacific report argues that employees consistently believe that while they enjoyed the freedom of working from home, they miss the human interaction and face-to-face collaboration that working in a professional office environment provides.
In Asia Pacific, millennials said they missed the office more than other age groups, 66% highlighted the office experience’s benefits: human interactions, professional environment, and place for focused work. Furthermore, regionally, 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 space and amenities vital for successful homeworking.
“Employees across India have successfully transitioned to remote working, but our interactions also suggest that many now crave the office environment’s cultural and human experience. It is becoming clearer that the office is here to stay, but greater acceptance of remote working will force a new workplace model for many corporations regionally,” says Ramesh Nair, CEO and Country Head (India), JLL.
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.
In terms of confidence in their company’s future, India emerged a leader with as high as 86% employees being confident of company’s future (very confident + fairly confident), versus 65% for the Asia Pacific region.
Respondents surveyed revealed that 29% of employees in the Asia Pacific region are very confident about their company’s future, and 27% were very confident in their own prospects.
As a result, respondents believe that employers have a responsibility to foster this sense of optimism, whether their teams are working from home or in the office and as businesses, enhance human performance and productivity wherever their workers are.
Key considerations for employers exploring a hybrid model include:
- Office space is here to stay: Higher 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 hubs: The 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 flexibility: Work from home saw many employees enjoy greater flexibility and control on their personal and professional lives. Corporates will have to redefine their real estate footprint, leveraging distributed and liquid spaces. Home offices, co-working places, satellite offices and the office HQ will all have to co-exist – leading to a truly hybrid office model.
Dr. Samantak Das, Chief Economist and Head – Research & REIS, India, JLL, said, “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.”
JLL’s Home and away: the new hybrid workplace? was based on the views of 1,500 employees from five countries across Asia Pacific. Respondents were asked about the impact of extended periods of remote work, access to technology, and which changes in professional behaviour will become permanent.