The remote versus office-based work situation in Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries may be off-and-on at present. Nevertheless, it is clear that predictions made during the depths of the pandemic, prophesying the ‘death of the office’, were way off the mark. 

A recent survey by CBRE, looking at ‘The Future of Work’ in Asia Pacific, found that although going forward, most companies in this region “intend to provide employees with the option to work remotely, they do not expect staff to do so on a full-time basis.” Instead, 66% of survey respondents said they “intend to allow remote working for no more than one or two days per week.”

We explore how video content is critical for digital transformation

Many employees are eager to return to the office — and employers are keen to have them back, citing better collaboration and corporate culture as key motivators. Even tech companies, which had most enthusiastically embraced work-from-home arrangements, are gradually reopening office space. 

Google has started welcoming staff back on a voluntary basis, and has announced that from September onward, it will expect employees to be in the office for a minimum of three days per week. Having begun reopening its U.S. offices in May, Facebook says its largest offices will be back at 50% capacity by September. Amazon will “return to an office-centric culture as our baseline,” as this approach “enables us to invent, collaborate, and learn together most effectively,” the company says.

In a late March interview with Bloomberg, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said in future, 80% of the company’s employees may remain in hybrid roles indefinitely, but they would spend “at least three days a week” in the office. He said those 10-20% of workers who chose to stay home permanently could face challenges managing staff or building culture in their team. 

It is back to office for employees in APAC

Research indicates that particularly in this region, companies are rapidly bringing staff back into the office — at least, for a substantial part of the working week. But what is being done to assist employees in adjusting to the new paradigm? 

Things used to be simple: turn up at the office at 9am five days a week. Now, an employee might spend two days a week in an office, another in a coworking space, and two at home. They may decide which hours of the day they work. They may have to book a desk so there’s somewhere to sit when they do go to the office. It’s complicated. 

Written newsletters are one way of updating staff on changing working conditions, but they often prove inefficient, with staff failing to actually read the messaging. Especially in organisations with large numbers of Millennial and Gen Z workers, more modern and easily digestible forms of communication — such as videos — can be more effective, not least where complicated concepts need to be explained… to individuals with short attention spans. 

A written explanation of a company’s new hybrid work policies and practices can be long winded, ‘corporate’ and cold, whereas a video — perhaps something animated or with an element of humour — will be more warmly received as such, and impactful. (Animation can also help camera-shy leaders impart a message without having to take centre stage.)

It’s believed that roughly 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and that we process visuals 60,000X faster than text. Studies have found that viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text. Nearly 70% of people, when asked how they would most like to learn about a product or service, say they’d prefer to watch a short video. 

Moreover, a recent academic study titled ‘Video Improves Learning in Higher Education’, published in Review of Educational Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association, suggested that video instruction may in fact be even more effective than in-person learning! 

Companies are reconfiguring the modern office

Many companies have seized the opportunity during the crisis to reconfigure and modernise offices. Nearly 50% of the companies surveyed by CBRE said they planned to increase collaborative space, and there is an ongoing trend toward more activity- or event-based layouts, and increased agility via a switch from fixed offices to hot-desking. Guest receptions are becoming digitised and ‘contact-free’. The booking of workspaces and meeting places is increasingly handled through technology, rather than person to person. 

It is clear that people are transitioning back into spending a great deal of their time in formal working environments after a year or more working remotely. But what is also clear is that they won’t be returning to the same old office. Workplaces are rapidly evolving to accommodate the needs of a new generation and the post-Covid status quo. 

Big changes are taking place. Companies need to help their staff adjust and acclimatise to unfamiliar ways of working and the arrival of the future workplace — what CBRE calls “a phygital environment that enables employees to easily switch between onsite and remote locations.” Video may well be the answer. 

This article was contributed by Christine Pang, Regional Marketing Manager, Asia for Shootsta

About the author

Christine Pang is a seasoned Marketer the in retail and technology market, based in Singapore. Christine joined Shootsta focusing on marketing strategy, campaign execution, and lead generation development across Asia. Before joining Shootsta, Christine held multiple marketing and communications positions in the retail and technology sector, including Airbnb and Marina Square.