Despite having only 313 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of May 15 (with no reported deaths), business in Vietnam has been seriously affected by the pandemic. Even before the official quarantine order from local authorities was announced, many companies in Vietnam had already started instructing their employees to begin working from home.
As this transition began, the big question became “how should organizations prepare themselves for the switch from office-based work to working from home?” In order to provide context on how various countries around the world handle working virtually, we asked some of our global colleagues to share their stories. This blog provides a first-person view into the life of an employee working from home in Vietnam, from the perspective of our Vietnam Placement Manager, Anh Le.
Remote working policies – “Every organization needs its own protocols to run its business. When things change, new policies should be applied. On March 15th, Tiki, one of the biggest Vietnamese e-commerce companies, applied working from home policies for thousands of employees. Be Group, a ride-hailing service provider, did the same on March 16th. In addition to these two large companies, many other businesses across Vietnam have done the same.”
Technology – “This is crucial, and the key factors are stable WiFi, as well as access to video calling platforms, project management platforms, and communication tools designed for employees working from home. In my view, the companies should have these digital means for the future and not just for short-term. Instead of using less secure communication platforms such as Zalo, Viber, or Facebook Messenger, it is highly recommended to use more secure programs like Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, or Skype for Business.”
People – “It’s important to set clear expectations from the beginning and make a tight contract with working from home employees. Most managers in Vietnam are relying on staff members’ physical presence at work to evaluate their performance. In this time of remote work, that should be switched to the employees’ online work results and coaching should be provided as well.”
Cost management – “Technology investment is a big deal for organizations that want to apply the working from home model to their long-term strategy. Companies should consider providing a laptop for each remote employee, along with the required platforms or softwares, and ensure they have stable WiFi. There may also be other costs that will arise as time goes on.”
Flexible schedule – “Employees do not have to show up at 8:00AM after suffering from heavy traffic under Vietnam’s hot and humid weather, only to then get stuck in a traffic jam for 30-60 minutes when coming back home. Flexible schedules help us to have a balance between work and life, allowing us more freedom during the day as long as we have great performance with our work. Some people feel this flexibility leads to an increase in productivity.”
Wider talent pool – “With office-based work, it is compulsory for the employees to be physically at work which means they must live within daily commuting distance to the office. With the option of working from home, potential job candidates who might be in another city or even another country have a chance to be hired. The ability to attract and retain top talent is the key that makes businesses more competitive.”
Money saving – “Having fewer staff in the office means less money spent on a traditional office space and other office-related costs. Not only do organizations save money, but employees as well. Money spent on transportation, professional clothes, food, and childcare are some ways that employees could cut costs when they are working from home.”
Lack of relationships among coworkers – “Personal relationships are extremely important for Vietnamese people. Working relationships and personal relationships tend to be blended in the Vietnamese society. Without bonding, people are uncomfortable sharing experiences or knowledge and building camaraderie with each other. Sometimes with remote working or remote communication, cultural differences might arise and affect the quality of work.”
Difficult to manage and maintain accountability – “When working from home, It can be hard to monitor employee performance, their deliverables, and evaluate their productivity. As there are not frequent in-person interactions, employers need to make sure that all employees are on the right track.”
Increased distractions – “Work-life balance is one of the main advantages of the working from home model. However, along with that, distractions are always on the way. Some people find it hard to focus when surrounded by kids, pets, or just snacks. They do not have an “office environment” which can make them less serious about the job.”
If you are interested in having your own remote working experience, check out our Virtual International Internship program held in partnership with Virtual Internships!