China’s return to the office signals post-pandemic future

In our latest WORKTECH Wednesday Briefing, we explore how Chinese workers are already road-testing the hybrid working model and preview an event exploring the impact of the pandemic on learning and innovation

While the rest of the world struggles to get back into the office, Chinese workers have already returned in unparalleled numbers. That’s the picture painted by Gensler’s new China Workplace Survey, which anonymously surveyed more than 3,000 full-time Chinese office workers and found that 99 per cent were either at the workplace full time or working in a hybrid model.

While more than half of office workers in the US, UK, and Australia are still working remotely full time, China has engineered what is described in the study as a ‘profound and successful transition back to the office’ despite being at the epicentre of the global pandemic. Gensler’s research picked up on the current mood in the Chinese office-based workforce. Here are some key findings:

The office is clearly here to stay – but workers will bring new expectations from their experience working from home. The workplace quickly regained its prominence as the key location for professional work in China, but working from home during the pandemic uncovered problems that already existed with the physical office. Workers now want the best of what they experienced at home to be applied to their workplaces – especially in relation to quiet and privacy for focus tasks.

‘While other countries are still speculating about the hybrid model, workers in China have tested it in practice…’

Chinese office workers want hybrid work to continue — and they’re feeling the benefits.

A hybrid work model means the typical work week is split between their workplace and various alternative locations, such as coworking sites, client sites, or the home. Nearly nine in 10 office workers in China are already working in a hybrid model. And this dynamic isn’t new — office workers in China were already relatively mobile. Now, 78 per cent want the hybrid work model to be their future way of working.

China is a leading indicator in adopting the hybrid work model – its success in controlling the virus has enabled it to pilot new ways of working for the post-pandemic world. While other countries are still speculating about the hybrid model, workers in China have been able to test it in practice through a swift return to the office. Plenty for the rest of the world to ponder on.

Learn, mentor, innovate…

Learning, mentoring, innovation and ideation have been among those activities that have suffered most in the global pandemic. Described as higher-value interpersonal work, they are activities that thrive in the physical environment when people come together and share knowledge, but can sometimes fall flat when conducted remotely.

To guide companies in rebuilding these activities for the new working world, the next WORKTECH webinar on 3 June 2021 is called ‘Routes to Revival: Learning and Innovation in the Post-Pandemic Workplace’. Developed in partnership with WORKTECH Academy global partner Condeco, the webinar is the first in a series of ‘Condeco Conversations’ around the challenges and opportunities facing corporate real estate leaders as they plot their journey back to the office.

This webinar will feature a panel discussion between WORKTECH Academy director Jeremy Myerson, Sophie Bollier of the British Council, Marie McDermott of law firm Dentons and Simon Cohen of Condeco. Register here.

Expanding the conversation

In this age of workplace experiment, organisations and governments alike are looking for new ideas and inspiration from different regions, economies and industry sectors. In response, WORKTECH Events is bringing back its WORKTECH Global event on 15- 16 June 2021. WORKTECH Global will showcase the latest knowledge, insights and evidence from around the world to help organisations and business leaders shift from pivoting through a crisis to planning a more permanent model for the future of work.

Brian David Johnson, best-selling author and futurist, will be a keynote speaker at the event. He will be sharing insights on what it takes to think like a futurist and dispelling the myths clouding the future of work currently. Find out more about the event here.

Financial Times partnership

WORKTECH Academy has become a Supporting Partner of the FT Future of Work Series. The series of events seeks to address the defining issues facing businesses, and their employees, at this pivotal moment in the world of work.

The next event in the series, ‘Future of Work: The Workplace’ explores the ways in which businesses will redefine their physical workspace. As mass vaccinations are ushered in, many businesses continue to reshape and iterate their future workplace strategy. WORKTECH Academy will provide The Financial Times with a resource of knowledge, insights and speakers to bolster the FT Future of Work series.

Find out more about the event series, here.

In our WORKTECH Wednesday Briefings, we reach out to our 10,000-plus Academy members, WORKTECH attendees, speakers, partners and sponsors while WORKTECH’s professional conference series continues through our virtual platforms. This edition is posted 26 May 2021.
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