In-office work becomes a nuisance for Vietnamese youth

By Quynh Nguyen   December 2, 2023 | 03:00 pm PT
Every morning, 25-year-old Bao Tran battles with whether or not to think of an excuse to work from home instead of going to the office.

The Hanoian living in Hoang Mai District said that he does not hate his work, but the loud, cramped, and distracting environment of his workplace makes it hard for him to focus.

"I can do my work from anywhere else, not just at the office," he said.

Bich Thuy, a 24-year-old content creator residing in Ba Dinh District, Hanoi, found herself becoming more reluctant to go to her office after her company moved to Ha Dong District. She now has to travel three hours to and from work every day due to traffic congestion.

But due to the nature of her work, she has been convinced that she does not have to work in the office.

"I’m a scriptwriter, and most of my communication with the production team happens on group chats. The fact that I have to show up to work is both time-consuming and does not improve my productivity," she said.

Many office workers tend to work at cafes instead of in the office to avoid being monitored. Photo by Quynh Nguyen

Many office workers tend to work at cafes instead of in the office to avoid being monitored. Photo by Quynh Nguyen

According to Nguyen Thi Minh, a psychology specialist and professor at the National Academy of Public Administration in Ho Chi Minh City, not wanting to work in-person is usually a characteristic present in workers under the age of 35. This demographic is often independent and prefers to have their personal freedom.

"Some young people nowadays are reluctant to communicate and like to be alone, so the fact that they have to fit into a community becomes a barrier," Minh said.

Do Minh Cuong, the Vice Director of the Institute of Business Culture, added a few other reasons why many Vietnamese youth now have this mindset.

First of all, many employees want to avoid getting into conflicts with their colleagues or superiors. Secondly, nowadays much work can be done independently or online. Moreover, the influence of the Covid-19 pandemic has led many Vietnamese youth to prefer remote work due to the freedom that it brings. It was this preference for autonomy that fueled their desire for a more flexible work model.

Coming from another side of the remote-work argument, Saigonese Nguyen Nga cited her inability to fit in with her workplace culture as the reason for not wanting to be in the office. The 28-year-old woman transferred to her new job almost a year ago, but she found herself unable to fit in with her colleagues, who were mostly older and often gossiped about each other behind their backs.

"I’m working to receive my salary, not to please my colleagues. I would rather work remotely to avoid drama," Nga said.

A survey conducted by the talent recruitment company Glints in 2022 revealed that 69.5% of Gen Z employees in Southeast Asia preferred a hybrid working model that allows them to choose when to work at home and at the office.

In Vietnam, 15-16 million people are part of Gen Z, making up 25% of the workforce. This number is slated to increase to 30% in 2030.

A poll conducted by VnExpress among 800 readers also showed a similar sentiment. About 85% of respondent answered "remotely" when asked "Do you want to work remotely or in-office?"

With that said, some employees are leaving the office often due to the instability of freelance work. It has been reported that the "Great Resignation" trend that boomed all over the world after the Covid-19 pandemic has turned into the "Great Regret".

Research done by the American online career platform The Muse in August 2022 showed that of the 2,500 workers surveyed, three-quarters of them felt "overwhelmed or regretful" because their new remote job was far different from what they were used to. Nearly half of them were even finding ways to return to their old jobs.

"The conundrum of wanting to be free while still having a stable income has caused many young employees to find ways to resist [company policies]," Cuong said.

A crowd of young employees working at a cafe on Nguyen Khang Street, Cau Giay District, Hanoi, June 2023. Photo by Quynh Nguyen

A crowd of young employees working at a cafe on Nguyen Khang Street, Cau Giay District, Hanoi, June 2023. Photo by Quynh Nguyen

Though Cuong does not refute the advantages of a more flexible work model, he also warned that leaving a community can do more harm than good. For the employees, working independently full-time will cause them to lose connection with their colleagues and superiors, leading to ineffective communication and a higher risk of a project failing.

As for the superiors, it will be harder for them to manage their employees and solve problems quickly if the only communication method is through emails or online conferences.

Research done in 2021 by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) revealed that 71% of leaders had a hard time adjusting to managing their employees from afar.

As for Nguyen Nga, she decided to quit her job after getting tired of constantly finding an excuse to work from home. Afterward, she found a remote job with a good salary and benefits that only required her to show up to the office once a week to report her work.

"If you have enough talent and can meet the requirements of the company, then it is easier to negotiate with managers and have them accept your requests. Because what they want is quality work," she said.

go to top