The Return-to-Office Dilemma

Economies are opening up around Asia and one thing is clear, the remote working ‘new normal’ that we’ve all adapted to over the past 2 years is slowly transitioning into more flexible hybrid working models. For our clients across the region, just when they thought things were improving after the Great Resignation and increasing employee turnover, another challenge emerged – the return-to-office.

We’ve spoken with many business leaders across various industries in Southeast Asia and asked for their thoughts on this new shift. The vast majority of them said that they were excited about getting employees to come back to the office safely. That being said, a large portion said that they were struggling to do so. From this exercise, we were able to identify 4 key insights.

  • A smooth transition to gradually returning to office safely is a key priority for leadership in 2022
  • The majority of employees are not motivated to return to office and feel worried by the thought of doing so
  • Some companies are looking for a full return-to-office when local governments permit 100% office capacity
  • People managers expect turnover to increase if flexible/hybrid work options are reduced

At GrabForBusiness, we speak with business leaders on a daily basis so the above insights weren’t all that surprising. How companies handle this change is extremely important and many will suffer severe consequences if they don’t manage this change with care.

We are working with CXOs and CHROs to help make their employees’ return-to-office experience enjoyable and reduce the possible aftermath effects of this change. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, motivating employees was a huge challenge but companies came up with creative initiatives to keep teams engaged. The same kind of effort is needed to help employees re-adapt to working in a physical workplace yet unfortunately, many leaders are underestimating this and may suffer high turnover and lower morale as a result. From our experience working with clients, we have found some of the most effective incentives include:

  • Subsidised transport when returning to office
  • Food delivery services or group meals for reunited teams
  • A workplace environment that prioritises employee wellbeing by maintaining high hygiene standards
  • Designated budgets for people managers to spend with reunited teams
  • In-office perks and/or pop-ups

The future of work continues to change. GrabForBusiness is partnering with hundreds of organisations across the region to support their return-to-work strategy. We’d love to speak with you about your return-to-office strategy, any difficulties you’re facing, and share ideas on best practice.

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Cian O’Neill – Regional Manager, Key Accounts – GrabForBusiness

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Komsan Chiyadis

GrabFood delivery-partner, Thailand

Komsan Chiyadis

GrabFood delivery-partner, Thailand

COVID-19 has dealt an unprecedented blow to the tourism industry, affecting the livelihoods of millions of workers. One of them was Komsan, an assistant chef in a luxury hotel based in the Srinakarin area.

As the number of tourists at the hotel plunged, he decided to sign up as a GrabFood delivery-partner to earn an alternative income. Soon after, the hotel ceased operations.

Komsan has viewed this change through an optimistic lens, calling it the perfect opportunity for him to embark on a fresh journey after his previous job. Aside from GrabFood deliveries, he now also picks up GrabExpress jobs. It can get tiring, having to shuttle between different locations, but Komsan finds it exciting. And mostly, he’s glad to get his income back on track.