2023 – The Year of The Return to Work in APAC?

Published on May 25, 2023

Updated on Aug 25, 2023

Written by Ben van Tongeren

As we are all well aware, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the labour market, with many people forced to work from home or lose their jobs entirely. However, as vaccination rates increase and restrictions ease, there is a growing trend of workers being asked to return to the office. In this article, we'll take a closer look at the return to work trend in the labour market in APAC and its potential impacts and challenges.

What is the return to work trend?

The return to work trend refers to the shift in the labour market as workers begin to return to their offices after months, and in some cases - years, of working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many employers are starting to call workers back to the office, either on a full-time or hybrid basis. This return to the office is driven by a number of factors, including the need for face-to-face collaboration, the desire to restore a sense of normalcy, and the belief that remote work is not sustainable over the long term.

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Challenges of returning to work

While the return to work trend is being welcomed by many employers and workers, it is not without its challenges. One of the main challenges is the potential health risk posed by returning to an office setting.  While Covid-19 is not a global emergency anymore, it still remains a health threat,, and many workers may be hesitant to return to the office for fear of exposure. Employers must take steps to ensure that their offices are safe and that workers are protected from the virus.

Another challenge of returning to work is the potential loss of flexibility that many workers have enjoyed while working from home. Remote work has allowed workers to better balance their personal and professional lives, and many may not be willing to give this up. Employers must find ways to provide a more flexible work environment to accommodate the needs of their workers.

Impact of the return to work trend

The return to work trend has the potential to have a significant impact on the labour market. It may lead to changes in how we work, with more hybrid and flexible work arrangements becoming the norm. It may also lead to changes in howwe think about work, with a greater focus on creating safe and healthy work environments.

The return to work trend may also have an impact on the job market, with some workers deciding to leave their jobs if they are not given the option to continue working remotely. This may lead to increased competition for jobs in certain industries or geographic regions.

What the data tells us

Australia / New Zealand

Job postings data from Lightcast shows us that there was a notable increase in roles advertised as ‘Work from Home’ across Australia and New Zealand from 2021, however a late ‘dip’ since Q2 2022 tells us the trend will be worth following throughout 2023.


We see a similar trend despite lower percentages of work from home roles being advertised in Singapore. Overall, Lightcast data show a continued increase in the roles being advertised in the Singapore region - but it will be interesting to observe the movement for the remainder of 2023 to see if there are any notable shifts.

What’s next for the APAC labour market?

The decrease in ‘Work from Home’ roles listed in APAC is certainly interesting and we will be keeping a close eye on this pattern as the year progresses. The return to work trend is a significant development in the labour market, and it has the potential to reshape the way that we work. While there are challenges to returning to the office, there are also opportunities for employers to create a more flexible and responsive work environment that meets the needs of their workers.

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