Trip.com books 996 culture a one-way ticket

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A man talks on the phone as he surfs the internet on his laptop at a local coffee shop in downtown Shanghai November 28, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

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HONG KONG, Feb 17 (Reuters Breakingviews) - Chinese travel giant Trip.com (9961.HK) is blazing a trail for an industry under fire for its notorious culture of driving employees too hard. Starting in March, the online-booking operator will allow staff to work outside the office for two days a week, the country’s first tech company to introduce such a hybrid policy as standard. read more

Trip’s bold decision sets it apart from bosses enamored with 996 read more - a common practice of working from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week. But the company’s six-month trial provided evidence that productivity is not necessarily at risk: 93% of the 1,600 participants felt more efficient. Besides saving on office rent, such a move could help companies like Meituan (3690.HK), Pinduoduo (PDD.O) and Bilibili (9626.HK) reduce the risk of drawing Beijing’s ire after recent headline-grabbing deaths of ill-treated or overworked employees.

Boss James Liang has also argued more working from home could help address housing affordability and falling birth rates – two key concerns of policymakers. Having like-minded fellow travellers can be a benefit. (By Yawen Chen)

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Editing by Antony Currie and Katrina Hamlin

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