Study: Hybrid work life enhances employee wellbeing and productivity

ACCORDING to a new global Cisco study, hybrid working has improved total employee wellbeing, work-life balance and performance in Malaysia.

While organisations have benefited from higher employee productivity levels, more needs to be done to build an inclusive culture and fully embed hybrid work arrangements to boost readiness levels and enhance employee experience.

Cisco’s “Employees are ready for hybrid work, are you?” study found that three in five (60%) employees in Malaysia believe that quality of work has improved.

A similar number (55%) felt that their productivity has enhanced. Three-quarters of employees (75%) also feel their role can now be performed just as successfully remotely as in the office.

However, the survey of 28,000 employees from 27 countries, including over 1,011 respondents from Malaysia, revealed that only one in five (20%) Malaysian employees think that their company is prepared for a hybrid work future. This is lower than the global average of 23%.

Hana Raja

“The last two years have shown us that work is no longer where we go, but what we do. In a hybrid normal, employees and employers in Malaysia are experiencing tangible benefits from improved employee wellbeing to better productivity and work performance,” said Cisco Malaysia managing director Hana Raja.

“However, hybrid work is more than just supporting a safe office re-entry. Leaders need to rethink how to cultivate an inclusive culture, place employees – their experience, engagement, and wellbeing at the centre, and modernise their networking and security infrastructure to provide a seamless, secure and inclusive employee experience.”

Hybrid working improved employee wellbeing

Cisco’s research examined the impact of hybrid working on five categories of wellbeing – emotional, financial, mental, physical, and social wellbeing with over three quarter of respondents (79%) saying hybrid and remote working has improved various aspects of their wellbeing.

Moreover, time away from the office has improved work-life balance for 79% of employees in Malaysia compared to the regional average of 81%.

More flexible work schedules (71%) and significantly reduced or completely removed commuting times (49%) contributed to this improvement.

Around two-thirds of people (68%) saved at least four hours per week when they worked from home (WFH), and over a quarter (29%) of respondents saved eight or more hours a week.

82% Malaysian respondents also say that their financial wellbeing improved, with their average savings reaching to over RM32,891 (US$7,488) a year.

A sizable 86% ranked savings on fuel and/or commuting among their top three areas for savings, followed by decreased spending on food and entertainment at 80%.

Over eight in 10 (83%) believe they can maintain these savings over the long term, and 60% would take these savings into account when considering changing jobs.

In addition, seven in 10 (72%) respondents believe their physical fitness has improved with remote working. A similar number (69%) say hybrid working has positively impacted their eating habits.

A significant majority (80%) indicate that remote working has improved family relationships and 44% of the respondents reporting strengthened relationships with friends.

Trust and transparency builds a successful hybrid work future

The future of work is hybrid, according to 74% of employees in Malaysia who say they want a combination of a remote and in-office hybrid working model in the future, compared to a fully remote (22%) and fully in-office (5%) experience.

However, there is uncertainty over how different work styles might impact inclusion and engagement. Over half (59%) of Malaysian respondents believe micromanaging behaviours had increased with hybrid and remote working.

A lack of trust from managers that their employees can be productive have been a common thorn in working experience.

“Trust has become a core tenet in our hybrid work normal, alongside flexibility and empathetic leadership,” commented Cisco APJC people and communities senior director Anupam Trehan.

“Our latest research indicates that more needs to be done to fully integrate hybrid work arrangements for employees, especially when it comes to building an inclusive culture powered by efficient technology infrastructure in this new world of working that employees clearly prefer.

“Leaders and companies need to commit to actions that go a long way to retain their people – listening, building trust, and leading with empathy, flexibility, and fairness.”

Simultaneously, technology will remain critical to enabling a future with increasingly diverse and distributed workforces.

Nearly two-thirds of (64%) respondents believe having connectivity issues regularly is career-limiting for remote workers.

As a result, 82% say networking infrastructure is essential for a seamless WFH experience, but around 36% say their company still needs the right networking infrastructure.

Over three-quarters (76%) of respondents in Malaysia believe that cybersecurity is critical for making hybrid working safe, but only 61% say their organisation currently has the right capabilities and protocols in place.

Furthermore, 62% think that all employees across their company understand the cyber risks involved with hybrid work, and 67% think business leaders are familiar with the risks.

“Technology is a key enabler of growth in the hybrid workplace, and it needs to be underpinned by end-to-end integrated security,” opined Cisco ASEAN cybersecurity director Juan Huat Koo.

“Organisations should prioritise a robust security posture that underpins every digitisation effort and ensure that cybersecurity is at the core of their technology architecture.

“Amid the expanded attack surface area today as more users and devices connect to corporate applications, organisations will need to bolster security and build greater vigilance, through enabling secure access and protecting users and endpoints in the network and the cloud.” – May 19, 2022

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