Four experts have released their combined thought leadership on how the Asia Pacific and Japan region can thrive with remote workforces.

How ready is an organization in the Asia Pacific and Japan region to thrive in the new world of remote- and hybrid-working?

Four experts have shared actionable insights and recommendations for designing a hybrid work future:  RMIT lecturer Dr Julian Waters-Lynch (Australia), management consultant Rochelle Kopp (based in Japan), National University of Singapore lecturer Dr Rashimah Rajah (Singapore) and Mallory Loone, co-founder of learning and engagement fi­rm Work Inspires (Malaysia).

According to Andy Sim, Vice President and Managing Director, Dell Technologies Singapore, which organized the thought-leadership sharing: “With work today no longer anchored to a single place and moment in time, organizations must focus on outcomes and be ready to help their employees realize both their professional and personal roles effectively regardless of where they work.”

Sim noted that leaders not only need to demonstrate empathy, but must also lead with intent.

Three imperatives for the future of work

The position paper that contains the expert findings asserted that culture-building and learning have to be a deliberate effort to spark creativity, innovation and collaboration amid the remote-working normal.

According to NUS’ Dr Rashimah Rajah: To prevent the risk of split cultures between home-based employees and those in the office, organizations must also create opportunities to encourage an organic exchange of ideas and foster trust between team members through dedicated and regular activities for social engagement.

The paper also detailed three key imperatives that organizations must prioritize as they lay the foundations for a successful and sustainable hybrid work arrangement:  

  1. Leadership: Leading with empathy and intent
    All four experts underscored that leaders have a defining role to play in assembling the building blocks of a hybrid work future. They must clearly establish fundamental and innovative changes in their organizations to move forward, yet demonstrate empathy and compassion towards the struggles their employees likely face, such as the lack of in-person communication, as well as blurred boundaries between professional and personal lives.

    Additionally, leaders must seek to establish trust with their employees and embrace an outcomes-driven mindset to avoid falling into the trap of micromanagement.
  2. Structure: Creating a thoughtful hybrid work structure
    Today, organizations cannot simply approach hybrid work from an operational and technical standpoint and apply a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model.

    Instead, employers must take the time to learn more about their employees’ preferences and needs to help them succeed in a remote work environment.

    To co-design an inclusive hybrid workplace, more open communication between employers and employees should be established, and a balance must be struck between flexible working and regularity—in the form of dedicated time for team meetings, for example—to preserve culture and social interaction.
3. Culture: Making culture-building deliberate
  • The experts also called for more deliberate efforts towards culture-building and learning and development to preserve and spark creativity, innovation and collaboration.

  • They cautioned against the risk of split cultures between home-based employees and those in the office, which may lead to tension in office dynamics and perceived imbalances between the two groups.

  • One suggestion is for employers to redirect their budget saved from daily office expenses and re-invest in dedicated and regular activities for social engagement among employees, such as team lunches or interactive training sessions. This helps create more opportunities for an organic exchange of ideas as well as the chance to foster trust and stronger working relationships between team members.