Philippine labor

Filipinos, Southeast Asians want flexible work to stay

Jezreel Ines

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Filipinos, Southeast Asians want flexible work to stay


Southeast Asian workers will even go as far as leaving their job if not provided flexibility, according to Ernst and Young's 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey

As the COVID-19 pandemic changed the landscape of work around the world, a large percentage of Filipino and other employees in Southeast Asia prefer not to return to a pre-COVID-19 working setup.

A majority of workers would even go as far as leaving their job if not provided flexibility even after the health crisis.

Results from Ernst and Young (EY) in their 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey revealed that the majority of employees surveyed from Southeast Asia would prefer to work in hybrid arrangements than in an office setup.

The respondents said they would prefer to work anywhere (32%), work remotely full time (29%), or in a hybrid work arrangement i.e., a mix of in-office and remote working (23%).

Only 15% of employees surveyed said they would prefer to return to the office full time.

Lisa Escaler, workforce advisory leader for SGV, a Philippine member firm of EY, said organizations should understand that the new normal has affected not only how people work but also the concept of how they can work.

“In the Philippines where employees have been forced to work from home for one of the longest periods of quarantine in the world, people’s perception of traditional workforce models and behaviors have changed drastically,” Escaler said.

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The survey also revealed that 9 in 10 employees from Southeast Asia said they want flexibility in where and when they work.

Of this, 49% said they would choose flexibility in when they work and 48% would choose flexibility in where they work. 

However, 60% would consider leaving their job if not provided post-pandemic flexibility.

Tan Lay Keng, EY Asean People Advisory Services Leader said employers who promote hybrid work arrangements and provide flexibility for employees to work are ahead of the curve. 

“These employers are likely to have better employee attraction, retention and satisfaction in the long run, which could positively impact the business,” Tan said.

Tan added that employers who invest in collaboration technology and give benefits that support work from home setup are likely to be more successful in the new normal.

“Employers will need to constantly review their employee engagement strategies, the impact of employee sentiments on culture and productivity, and the technological investments that are needed to sustain an optimized in-person, hybrid and digital work experience,” Tan said.

The global survey canvassed the views of 16,264 employees from 16 countries – including 1,037 respondents across different Southeast Asian nations such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines – and across 23 industries.

The survey also explored employee attitudes and experiences to work throughout the pandemic and into the “next normal.” –

Jezreel Ines is a Rappler intern. He is a 3rd year journalism student at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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Jezreel Ines

Jezreel is a researcher-writer at Rappler mainly focused on governance and social issues.