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HR & EDUCATION | Contributed Content, Hong Kong
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Natina Wong

Are you doing enough to encourage flexible working?

BY NATINA WONG

Nowadays, the traditional nine-to-five workplace routine has been slowly replaced by the growing trends of remote/flexible working and work-sharing. In fact, a great number of well known multinational companies, such as Facebook, have already put "flexible working" in place, encouraging employees to work on-the-go so as to boost productivity and friendly workplace culture.

What about Hong Kong?

Well, according to the Thematic Household Survey Report released by the HKSAR government in 2015, of over 600,000 female home-makers, nearly 40,000 said they would "definitely/very likely" take up a full-time or part-time job when there is one available. Interestingly, the majority (89.6 percent) said "flexible working hours" would boost their interest in taking up a job.

Flexible working is clearly one of the important criteria people consider when it comes to taking up a job. However, when it comes to implementing such practices in Hong Kong, there are some challenges that local companies and employees still find hard to come to terms with.

Misperception of flexible working among employees
Despite the fact that the HKSAR government has been introducing family-friendly employment practices to help employees balance the responsibilities of their work and families for years, many people would still rather not work from home or in flexible hours. That isn't because they don't want to. Rather, it is because there is a stigma attached to it.

According to global recruitment consultancy company Harvey Nash, people are still very wary of how asking for flexible working arrangements could affect their career or make them look weak, lazy, or less than 100 percent committed to their job.

Management team mindsets
As well as this misperception among employees, the ignorance of the importance of flexible working in management teams also hinders the broader implementation of flexible working.

Studies suggest that putting in "passive face time" – merely being seen regularly at the office without any concrete evidence of your performance – means that you're given an unjustified reputation for being "responsible" and "dependable." Ironically, the reality is different.

Studies also suggest that those working from home are actually more productive than their office-based counterparts. Managers need to keep their minds open and understand that a daily presence doesn't equate to dramatic dedication.

Beating the generation barrier
It's a fact that the younger generation likes flexibility in everything, from their personal pursuits to working life. As more millennial workers enter the workforce, established corporations and their more mature management teams have to understand this desire for workplace flexibility and quickly adapt to such trends and demands.

When you run your business, you always need to keep your best people happy and motivated and help them to maintain work-life balance through adopting flexible working. And if you want to retain and attract top talent, you really can't afford to ignore the continuing demand for flexible working arrangements in the workplace.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Hongkong Business. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Natina Wong

Natina Wong

Natina Wong is country manager of Regus Hong Kong.

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