Bryce Whitwam
Aug 30, 2022

Reimagining the Chinese workspace under the 'new normal'

SHANGHAI ZHAN PODCAST: Despite the recent lockdowns, Shanghai companies are still slow to adopt hybrid work environments despite the clear benefits, says workspace consultant and former WeWork China head of technology, Dominic Penaloza.


New technology innovations and recent Covid lockdowns should make China the ideal place for hybrid work environments, offering employees the opportunity to stagger the workspace from home and office during the week. Still, it is slow to get started in China, despite becoming now the preferred way of working for the rest of the world.

“There’s still a trust gap between senior and junior management in China,” said Dominic Penaloza, WeWork China’s former head of technology and now a workspace consultant based in Shanghai.  “China needs better technology tools to solve the new problems arising out of the hybrid working model.”

Penaloza believes these tools need to help solve time synchronization amongst colleagues, indicating who and when will be in the office. “A lot of time is now wasted coordinating schedules under the hybrid model,” he said.

Penaloza cites the online travel agency, as an example of one sizeable Shanghai-based company that has fully adopted a hybrid working model. “Initially, only 33 percent of’s staff  were willing to work 2 days a week from home.  People suffered from ‘presenteeism’, believing that  being in the office shows their commitment to the  company,” said Penaloza.

“But studies showed huge benefits to the company from a hybrid model, including a 35 percent attrition reduction, and 12 percent reduction in absence days. The hybrid model was also eventually warmly received by the staff,” replied Penaloza.

Penaloza believes that the cost benefits for companies going hybrid are too good to pass up, especially with no fluctuations in real estate prices in Shanghai over the past few years.


This interview is available on podcast, ShanghaiZhan, now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Amazon Music, Stitcher, and Xiao Yu Zhou. For more information, visit

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