THE Ayala Group is considering making hybrid work arrangements permanent as it increases its focus on digital transformation for its operations.

In a speech at the Ayala-FINEX Finance Summit held virtually on Wednesday, Ayala Corp. Chairman and CEO Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala said the conglomerate is currently evaluating the need for office spaces.

“Over the last few months, we’ve been conducting extensive research and consultations on the feasibility of a hybrid work arrangement for our employees. We’re making this relatively permanent,” he said.

“We’re applying the principle of outcomes-based evaluation and task-based approach with the way we work… We’re beginning to think in concrete terms rather than just in an impulsive and reactionary way,” he added.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March, companies across the country have been forced to implement work-from-home arrangements to comply with government protocols that restrict mobility.

The Ayala Group had to adjust by allowing the majority of its over 50,000 employees to stay at home, Mr. Zobel said. As of end-August, around 38% of the group’s workforce continue to work from home.

He noted the changing landscape for workspaces is a consideration for its own business, Ayala Land, Inc., which is a major real estate player in the country.

“Reimagining the future of work is just one element of this larger digital transformation journey that’s beginning to take place. As it stands, redesigning the relationship between work and the office already requires a high degree of openness, flexibility and trust in the institution that you’re working for,” Mr. Zobel said.

The Ayala Group formalized its digital transformation in mid-2019 when it established AC Analytics as a data science unit. It also opened a $195-million venture capital fund to scout for startups that it may invest in.

These strides were in congruence with the company’s belief that digital transformation requires more than just adapting new tools and equipment, but also institutionalizing a “mindset of experimentation”, Mr. Zobel said.

Learning from the group’s alternative work arrangements in the past months, the Ayala chief executive said work flexibility does not necessarily lead to a huge drop in productivity.

“I think productivity should not be the key focus at this point in time. It’s too much shift, too much change. Productivity will come at a later stage,” Mr. Zobel said. “I think more important right now is the ability to adjust, to change, and to do it in a healthy way where we are all in a mentally good place.”

The Ayala Group has businesses in real estate, banking, telecommunications and utility, among others.

In the first semester, Ayala Corp.’s net income dropped 79% to P7.9 billion, due to loan loss provisions from its banking unit, suspension of mall operations of its real estate unit, and one-time gains in 2019 from divesting in power and education.

Shares in the company lost P2 or 0.28% to close at P716 each on Wednesday. — Denise A. Valdez