THE WORKPLACE of the post-pandemic era needs to adapt with hybrid, flexible personnel policies tailored to the organization’s needs, according to speakers appearing at a Jan. 19 webinar organized by BusinessWorld.

Regardless of where employees work, Ellen C. Fullido, president-elect and annual conference chair of the People Management Association of the Philippines, said adaptability to changing circumstances is the first response to a disruptive event like the pandemic.

The FJ Elizalde Group of Companies, for which she serves as vice-president for human resources and administrative services, transitioned to flexible work arrangements because of the pandemic.

“We learned how to use (videoconferencing apps like) Webex, and we allowed people to bring home their computers from work,” said Ms. Fullido, while allowing those onsite to log in and out daily via a human resources information system.

Those working remotely are monitored based on their output, with overtime pay determined by work volume.

Apart from resilience, “agility in dealing with the challenges within organizations is key to sustaining business operations,” Ms. Fullido said. “Ensure employees’ health and safety above all.”

As many as 91% of individuals want to work from home more often, according to a 2020 global survey by recruitment firm Robert Walters. In its 2021 Philippine-specific survey, Robert Walters also found that 33% of respondents preferred a hybrid work setup, with 52% saying they’d decline a job offer which requires 100% office attendance in the office.

A work-from-home setup is not without downsides, however.

Company culture is affected when workers don’t spend time together in the office, according to Kimberlyn Lu, managing director of Robert Walters Malaysia and the Philippines. For many, she added, a hybrid model — which helps employees spend time with both their families and co-workers — is best.

“Leaders need to make sure that the outcomes are clear,” Ms. Lu said. “They need to present the key focus areas at the start of the year… and (regularly) reiterate what the goals are and how workers can get there.”

Burnout also happen with work from home, she said at the webinar.

“Companies that wish to promote sustainability and long-term productivity need to promote physical and mental well-being, speak openly about it, and (have their) leaders model it,” Ms. Lu added.

Remote work may be gaining steam — but the office is not dead, according to Morgan McGilvray, a senior director of occupier services and commercial agency at Santos Knight Frank, a real estate services company.

“What’s dead is the idea that all employees must be in the office Mondays to Fridays from 8 to 5,” he said.

What companies need to figure out, he said, is not only which employees need to be in and when, but also how to make office space a place that people want to go to.

Mr. McGilvray added: “Firms have to get that right if they want to bring people back in the office.”

This process includes selecting where offices are placed.

A hub-and-spoke office model, for example, involves locating headquarters at a core location, with smaller spoke offices geographically distributed based on talent and client needs.

“If you have a great office, but your employees have to commute two hours to get to it, that detracts from the experience,” Mr. McGilvray said. “If your (employees) don’t have to be in the headquarters, maybe give them a (spoke) office they can check into every day… That something firms can do to help the office experience that doesn’t actually involve interior office design.” — Patricia B. Mirasol