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Working from home vs in person working

The struggle between mandated returns and the remote revolution

Will middle ground be found? And how is this clash affecting talent attraction and retention?

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The debate over remote work versus mandated in-person attendance has intensified.
Industry giants like Amazon and Meta have been reported to enforce mandatory on-site reporting.
Flexible working is identified by 51% of APAC CIOs as the key driver for retaining talent.

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In a rapidly evolving landscape, the debate over remote work versus mandated in-person attendance has intensified, with conflicting perspectives emerging from both employers and C-suite stakeholders. TALiNT International has reported on the Clash of the Cultures and on how enforcing a return to the office could result in increased attrition and how not offering flexible working will hinder attracting talent.

A recent report by JLL sheds light on a growing trend among employers mandating in-office attendance to uphold hybrid work policies. Concerns about potential productivity gains stemming from remote work have prompted 33% of over 20,000 surveyed office workers worldwide to report the implementation of compulsory attendance by their employers. Industry giants like Amazon and Meta have previously been reported to enforce mandatory on-site reporting.

Despite a widespread push for office returns as the pandemic recedes, the JLL report notes a significant shift in employer attitudes, asserting, “Fully remote is not acceptable anymore.” Face-to-face collaboration emerged as the top reason cited by employers, with 87% emphasising the importance of in-person interactions. Additional motivations included cultivating company culture (61%), potential productivity gains (51%), increased social connections (47%), the ability to manage people (39%), increased innovation (32%), and mentorship and development (32%).

Face-to-face collaboration emerged as the top reason cited by employers, with 87% emphasising the importance of in-person interactions

The report suggests a growing awareness among employers of the benefits associated with working in the office after years of hybrid arrangements. Employers now view on-site work not only as a means of improving collaboration, social connection, and cultural bonds but also as a significant contributor to overall employee productivity.

Contrasting viewpoints abound

However, a contrasting viewpoint arises from research conducted by Expereo, revealing that 44% of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in the Asia-Pacific region believe that a flexible working policy has broadened access to a more extensive pool of highly skilled individuals. The study, encompassing the perspectives of CIOs from different countries and markets, indicates that 42% now manage teams spread across different countries, exceeding the global average of 38%.

Flexible working is identified by 51% of APAC CIOs as the key driver for retaining and recruiting skilled employees. Notably, 32% of CIOs in the region admitted to hiring individuals into their teams without ever meeting them in person, reflecting the transformative nature of work relationships.

Flexible working is identified by 51% of APAC CIOs as the key driver for retaining and recruiting skilled employees

For businesses in the Asia-Pacific region, the new normal entails working three days or less in the office for 73% of respondents, with 44% attributing the increased demand for hybrid/remote work to cost-of-living pressures. However, 29% of APAC CIOs anticipate an increase in office attendance days due to productivity concerns (30%) and consistent home connectivity issues impacting productivity (30%).

Eric Wong, Head of Asia Pacific at Expereo, emphasised the necessity for organisations to adapt to the changing dynamics of a global workforce, citing the importance of technology in facilitating connectivity and collaboration in remote work environments.

While the advantages of a broader talent pool are acknowledged, challenges faced by CIOs include ensuring application performance across multiple locations (43%) and providing 24/7 support across multiple time zones (34%). Legacy systems, lack of local knowledge, and technology challenges at the Board level are cited as barriers to delivering global growth.

In the recruitment landscape, finding the right mix of business and technology skills poses a challenge for 42% of APAC CIOs, with expertise in growth technologies such as data analytics, cybersecurity, AI/ML, and app development ranking as the most challenging skills to recruit for.

As organisations grapple with the ongoing debate, striking a balance between mandated returns and the benefits of remote work remains a complex challenge, requiring adaptability and innovative solutions to meet the evolving needs of a dynamic workforce.

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