Chinese travel booking giant Trip.com adopts hybrid office
Dozens of tech companies around the world have transitioned to remote working or some sort of hybrid model in the past two COVID-hit years. In China, however, most tech companies have returned to the office since the summer of 2020, thanks to the country’s low infection rates due to its zero COVID policy. Despite the normality of life, a Chinese company has decided to stick to remote work.
Starting March 1, Trip.com, China’s largest flight and hotel booking platform, will allow employees to work up to two days a week from home upon permission, it announced on Tuesday. The company, founded in 1999 and rebranded from Ctrip to Trip.com in 2019, made the move after seeing “improved well-being” in 75% of its 1,600 employees who worked remotely in a trial. six months last year. The experiment included staff with core technical, product, sales and marketing roles and about 400 supervisors, a company spokesperson told TechCrunch.
No less than 93% of participants felt they were using their time “more efficiently”, and the company’s turnover rate, which follows voluntary quits, fell by around a third over the period. Nearly 60% said they “strongly” supported hybrid working at the end of the trial.
Employees can apply to work from home, in a cafe or anywhere else they choose from March. Managers in each department will decide who can request to work remotely based on team goals and individual circumstances, the spokesperson said. The managers also have the right to make adjustments to the arrangement at their discretion.
The hybrid practice will first be rolled out in Trip.com’s Chinese offices, while its overseas branches will adopt the model “depending on local circumstances and COVID-19 protective measures.”
Trip.com, which is listed on the Nasdaq and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, has expanded internationally by acquiring foreign competitors over the years. In a $1.74 billion deal in 2016, it snapped up Scotland-based Skyscanner. In 2019, he increased his shares in MakeMyTrip in India to almost half. More recently, in 2020, he bought Dutch travel group Travix for an undisclosed amount.
As of December 2020, Trip.com, its subsidiaries and affiliates had a combined workforce of approximately 33,400 people. About 30,000 are in China.
James Liang, co-founder and chairman of the board of Trip.com, frequently comments on social issues in China. When designing the flexible work schedule, Liang, a computer scientist and economist, apparently also had China’s demographic challenges in mind.
In a statement, Liang said a hybrid workplace is “a multi-win solution for business, employees and society. Not only does it improve employee satisfaction without compromising efficiency, but it also helps to reducing traffic congestion and environmental protection; mitigating high housing prices and regional disparities; and contributing to families, women’s career development and higher fertility rates.”
Trip.com is embracing the hybrid desktop at a time when the culture of overwork in China’s tech sector is causing growing concern and criticism. The company shows that remote work does not compromise productivity; 71.9% of participants in its 2021 experiment said hybrid working had no impact on their performance.
“We hope that hybrid work models will be further promoted in traditional Chinese enterprises in the future, which will have a far-reaching positive impact on society and economy,” Liang said.