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RMIT: New ways to work can improve HCMC

Released at: 08:47, 21/03/2019

RMIT: New ways to work can improve HCMC

Photo: RMIT Vietnam

University releases research on "anywhere working" in southern city.

by Hung Cao

With Ho Chi Minh City predicted to become the second-fastest growing city economy in Asia within the next three years, “anywhere working” could be key to improving its livability, new RMIT research has found.

Published in the “Journal of Cleaner Production”, “An Investigation into Anywhere Working as a System for Accelerating the Transition of Ho Chi Minh City into a More Liveable City” investigated the impact of Ho Chi Minh City’s traffic congestion, air pollution, and limited infrastructure on living conditions linked to the city’s booming economy.

RMIT Vietnam lecturer and lead author Dr. Reza Akbari said the research was inspired by the rapid speed in which the city was growing, which will inevitably cause “a lot of challenges” through an increase in traffic congestion and pollution.

“We looked into methods or practices to be able to transform [some of those challenges] by looking into anywhere working practices,” Dr. Akbari said.

He described anywhere working as a work model outside the traditional office setting, where the employee communicates by cloud-based technology. As more cars and motorbikes hit Ho Chi Minh City’s streets every day, he believes anywhere working is a viable method of shortening commutes.

“Anywhere working is not just from home,” he said. “We can have different hubs or offices in different districts where people can perform their job without having to travel all the way to District 1 [the city’s downtown core] or from one side of the city to the other.”

The research determined the average commute to and from work among respondents was 140 minutes. The shortest reported commute was five minutes, while the longest was 205 minutes.

While 74 per cent of the city’s commuters revealed they would like to engage in anywhere working, only 41 per cent of respondents were given employer permission to do so, and 29 per cent admitted they didn’t know whether it was an option in their workplace.

Most surprisingly, the research revealed the age group with the highest response rate of disliking remote work was respondents under 24 years old, which is contrary to research of a similar nature conducted in other countries.

“The most significant challenge to any long-term adoption of the practice [in HCMC] would be the aversion to anywhere working found in the youngest age group,” said Dr. Akbari. “This was an unexpected result, which warrants further investigation.”

The research was a collaborative effort between RMIT University and Swinburne University. Dr. Akbari, along with his co-author from Swinburne University, Dr. John Hopkins, created a detailed survey to discover how people commuted to work from home every day in Ho Chi Minh City and followed the journeys of 201 participants over a two-year period.

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