This week, we see China clamping down on the ‘996’ work culture where employees work from 9am to 9pm, 6 days a week. In 2019, Alibaba founder Jack Ma wrote an essay calling 996 a “great blessing” that was necessary to Alibaba’s rise. But a growing number of critics denounced 996 as worker exploitation.As we embrace hybrid workplaces and strive toward healthy work cultures, how will the future of hybrid work unfold?
From our living rooms,
Authorities say 996 is illegal - China has declared a crackdown on the ‘996’ working culture of many Chinese tech firms like Alibaba, Tencent, and JD.com. China’s top court and Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security published guidelines last Thursday on what is considered overtime work.
But it won’t end so soon - Current Chinese law says that employees should not be asked to work more than 40 hours a week, and businesses must restrict overtime. Yet leading companies like Pinduoduo have been blacklisted by employees where working overtime is the norm.
Dividing views - Companies including Amazon, Twitter, and Goldman Sachs have taken different stances on remote work. While some firms (like Spotify) are embracing permanent/flexible remote models, others (like many Japanese companies) insist on a return to the office.
Weighing pros and cons - Experts say remote work gives employees flexibility and allows companies to hire globally (more companies are hiring remotely in APAC). But there are also trade-offs with WFH, such as social isolation and sometimes lower productivity.
Creating inclusive remote work culture - About 98% of future meetings will include at least one remote participant. To ensure all voices are heard, companies such as Singapore Exchange have used video conference tools like Webex, with facial recognition features to enable inclusive collaboration between their employees.
Cybersecurity still a problem - While companies like Zoom are constantly tightening their cybersecurity defenses, companies working remotely should understand it’s still a problem and that humans (not the tech) are ultimately the weakest link in any defense. However, there are ways to mitigate the threat.