Trip.com Group , China’s largest online travel services provider, will roll out a hybrid work policy across its global operations from March 1, enabling about 33,400 employees worldwide to perform their jobs remotely up to two days each week. The Shanghai-based firm – operator of online travel agencies Trip.com, Ctrip and Qunar, as well as travel metasearch engine Skyscanner – said this move would make it the “first internet company in mainland China to implement a comprehensive proactive hybrid work model”, according to its statement on Tuesday. The policy will be implemented across the group’s offices on the mainland, Hong Kong and 16 other regions, adjusted according to local circumstances and Covid-19 protection measures. “When a good part of the society works remotely, their job satisfaction will improve,” said James Liang Jianzhang , group co-founder and executive chairman, in an online group interview with media on Tuesday. “[This hybrid working model] helps reduce urban traffic congestion and contributes to employees’ work-life balance, which may even boost the country’s fertility rate.” Liang said he expected the group’s appeal to existing employees and new workers would grow because of its hybrid work policy. “I hope that … more peers will join us [in carrying out this strategy],” he said. The effort could help Trip.com Group distance itself more from the Chinese tech industry’s infamous 996 work culture , while helping the firm engage valuable talent in anticipation of a post-pandemic rebound in global travel. The 996 schedule, which refers to working 12 hours a day, six days a week, has become an unwritten standard for many mainland Chinese tech firms. Hong Kong shares of the group, which is also listed on the Nasdaq, were up 0.96 per cent to close at HK$230.80 on Tuesday. While the hybrid work model has gained widespread adoption in Silicon Valley and Wall Street firms, especially during the coronavirus pandemic , the approach is relatively new to private enterprises in mainland China. Companies in the world’s second-largest economy, however, have been forced to adopt remote work strategies in line with government-imposed community lockdowns to stop the spread of Covid-19. Despite Trip.com Group’s claim of being the first Chinese tech firm to actively implement a hybrid work model, e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding in December started allowing employees to work from home one day each week . Alibaba is the parent of the South China Morning Post . Still, the Shanghai company’s decision to pursue a hybrid work model was based on two large-scale, localised hybrid experiments it conducted in August last year and in 2010. The results of its recent six-month trial, which had more than 1,600 participants, show that “93 per cent of employees felt they used their time more efficiently and over 75 per cent reported feeling an improvement in their wellness”, according to the company’s statement on Tuesday. “We have seen more structured work styles, such as specifying which days teams and colleagues would be in the office,” said Michelle Yeung, studio director for the Hong Kong branch of US design and architecture firm Gensler. “Technology companies are among those reporting their highest preference for hybrid work.” Data from Gensler’s China Workplace Survey 2021 showed that 87 per cent of respondents were already in a hybrid work model. This survey had more than 3,000 participants, mostly employees on the mainland. In Hong Kong, the hybrid work model is well-established, according to Yeung. “Many organisations, from technology firms to companies in other industries, already started to implement flexi-working options in 2020,” she said.