[Recap] Navigating the Transformation: Performance, Wellbeing, and Hybrid Work

KPIs are not enough to measure employee performance, and effective well-being programs go beyond superficial initiatives.

[Recap] Navigating the Transformation: Performance, Wellbeing, and Hybrid Work

The modern workplace is experiencing a significant shift towards remote and hybrid work arrangements. As companies adjust to this evolving work environment, they look for more efficient ways to ensure optimal job satisfaction and productivity while trying to tap into employees’ well-being.

FlexOS CEO Daan van Rossum and Alexis Pham, Chief People Officer at Home Credit, shared their insights on hybrid work and its implications during a seminar organized by CEEC and its vice-chairman Vlad Savin.

Below are the key takeaways from their discussion.

Vlad Savin, Alexis Pham, and Daan van Rossum in the seminar Performance, Wellbeing, and Hybrid Work
Vlad Savin, Alexis Pham, and Daan van Rossum.

What is hybrid work?

Hybrid work is a working model that seamlessly blends office-based work with remote work. It allows us to enjoy the best of both worlds—some days in the office and others from the comfort of our homes.

Academic research from professor Nick Bloom at Stanford and the University of Leeds proves that hybrid and remote working models improve everything we care about as employers: recruitment, engagement, and retention.

An image explains that hybrid work exists along a spectrum, with various approaches tailored to organizations and individuals.
Hybrid work exists along a spectrum, with various approaches tailored to organizations and individuals. 

Daan highlighted that Hybrid Work and Remote Work are terms that mean a lot of things to a lot of people. In reality, hybrid work is a spectrum and it takes on various forms, with different approaches tailored to suit the needs of organizations and individuals. The key hybrid models are:

  • Hybrid Choice: Employees can select the days to work in the office within a minimum requirement.
  • Partial Choice: In addition to designated office days, employees can choose which other days to work from the office, with a minimum number of office days.
  • Fixed Days (Organized Hybrid): Employers specify which days employees must work in the office.

Certain companies embrace complete freedom of choice, allowing employees to select their preferred working style.

For example, Hubspot, an early adopter of hybrid work, offers its employees full choice. Twice a year, each individual can choose their preferred profile, be it fully remote, hybrid, or predominantly office-based. 

A Widespread of Hybrid Work in the Region

The implementation of hybrid work has become widespread in countries like Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore. A recent Telstra study shows that 85% of companies in the Asia-Pacific region actively promote and embrace a hybrid work model. 

A survey among Singapore employees shows that one in two would consider quitting if they no longer can work hybrid.
Singapore: one in two employees would consider quitting if they no longer can work hybrid.

FlexOS research shows that Singaporean employees are particularly keen on this arrangement, with one in two claiming they would consider quitting if they could no longer work hybrid.

Google is a great example. It was recognized as the most desirable employer in Singapore just last month, with employee freedom being a significant factor.

But not every market in APAC is mostly hybrid, as research from Monks Hill Ventures and Glints showed, with especially Vietnam and to a degree Indonesia, trailing behind.

Monk's Hill Ventures & Glints Research shows the proportion of different work environment policies in SEA 2023.
Source: Monk's Hill Ventures & Glints, The Southeast Asia Startup Talent Report, April 2023.

The Significance of Well-being

Another key topic of the event's discussion was about well-being. Alexis and Daan agreed that to create a thriving work environment, well-being programs should extend beyond superficial initiatives.

Alexis shared her approach to managing employee energy for better well-being, including several holistic wellness components implemented at Home Credit. 

These components include:

  • providing employees with purpose and meaning beyond earning a salary,
  • improving intellectual growth through upskilling,
  • offering emotional management training,
  • investing in physical well-being through encouraging physical activity,
  • providing opportunities for exercise and movement,
  • ensuring financial well-being through competitive salaries and financial literacy training.
Gallup defines The Five Essential Elements of Well-Being.
Gallup defines The Five Essential Elements of Well-Being.

Gallup also has a comprehensive well-being model comprising five pillars: physical health, social health, financial health, community, and career. 

All five pillars need to be activated to achieve effective well-being initiatives. Such initiatives require sustained and strategic efforts focusing on long-term behavior change rather than one-off activities.

In her Future Work Podcast interview, Alyssa Stark, Head of Well-being at Singtel, also emphasized the importance of a total well-being strategy involving small behaviors. Real change comes from small, incremental actions over time rather than relying on grand gestures.

Increase Employee Performance

The final topic was employee performance. The speakers agreed that when measuring employee performance, traditional metrics aren't always enough. There are 6 bits of advice extracted from the discussion to impact team members' effectiveness. 

  • Purpose and alignment: Employee performance is closely linked to the purpose and mission of the company. When employees believe in and are personally invested in the organization's goals, they are likelier to go above and beyond.
  • Embrace autonomy: Giving employees control over their work environment and job independence can significantly enhance their performance. As Amy Leschke-Kahle wrote in "It’s time to ‘grownupify’ work" for Fortune, employers should trust their workers to do great work. 
  • Developmental approach: Performance management should focus on development rather than solely on achievements. It is about identifying ways to support employees, provide necessary resources, and help them achieve better results.
  • Engaging with employees: Leaders should have open conversations with their team members, understand their difficulties, and offer assistance. This inclusive approach fosters a positive work environment and encourages employees to become their best selves. 
  • Enabling great work: Creating opportunities for employees to do great work is essential. Excessive meetings and constant distractions hinder productivity. Managers should evaluate calendars, minimize unnecessary meetings, and provide dedicated time for focused work.
  • Data-driven feedback: Performance management can benefit from using data to provide objective feedback and insights for improvement. Using analytics and relevant metrics can help employees understand their performance and areas for growth.

Work-Life Integration and Microproductivity

Achieving work-life balance implies a sense of opposition between work and personal life. However, it is essential to recognize that work is now a part of life. 

Thanks to flexible work arrangements, people can integrate their work and personal life better. This means individuals can work from 9 am to 2 pm and then again later in the evening. This approach, called Microproductivity by Jaime Teevan, Chief Scientist at Microsoft, involves finding several timeslots in the day to blend work with personal activities. 

Microproductivity acknowledges that work is no longer confined to a traditional 9-to-5 schedule and allows individuals to optimize their productivity based on their unique circumstances.

Tracy Brower, the author of The Secret to Happiness at Work, researched what makes people happy at work and what drives performance. In her Future Work interview, Tracy agrees that work and personal life are becoming more intertwined, and people should feel free to find meaning in their work while not feeling guilty about attending to personal matters during work hours.

Make Hybrid Work Happen 

During the seminar, Alexis concluded that "it takes time for the market to mature." Shifting towards hybrid and remote work models requires a change in mindset.

The best hybrid companies are fully remote companies because they basically had to redesign from the ground up fully. The structure required for hybrid settings is different, and alternative practices for performance, productivity, well-being, and development must be put in place when people meet up in person less frequently.

Daan emphasized the importance of listening to employees. By understanding the needs and concerns of every member, companies can conduct appropriate solutions to improve the overall work experience. If your latest survey is over six months old, it may no longer accurately reflect their current status.

Alexis also emphasized the importance of creating an inclusive and employee-centric environment at work. This entails considering the different stages of life and generational differences while harnessing the collective potential of the workforce to cultivate a culture of innovation and positivity. The combination of human-touch initiatives, including work practices and well-being programs, is crucial for supporting employees and helping them perform at their best.

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