Microsoft Explores the New World of Work Trends in Asia Pacific

November 25, 201512:43 pm1174 views

With 70% of employees in Asia Pacific and 67% of employees in Singapore considering themselves to be mobile workers, the Microsoft’s New World of Work Study unveiled the New World of Work Index, comparing how workers perceive their ability to succeed in today’s digital, fast paced and modern work place.

The Asia Pacific wide study shows that enterprises are lagging behind their employees’ expectations to be more productive, collaborative and innovative in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.

The New World of Work covers three key principles:

  1. People: Employees have the capability to work flexibly and productively in the digital modern work place. They are supported by leaders and cultures that help them succeed in this dynamic environment.
  2. Place: Employees can work flexibly, anywhere at any time. Their offices support a collaborative, dynamic design and their policies support flexible work at work, home or with customers.
  3. Technology: Employees are empowered with technology to enable them to succeed in this environment, allowing collaborative work wherever they may go.

According to Forrester, 79% of business and technology decision-makers in Asia Pacific organizations have considered improving the experiences of technology empowered customers as a high or critical priority for their business in 2015.

However, “organizational inertia” is the biggest hurdle to digital transformation in Asia Pacific, indicating that businesses are not prepared to build and develop digital businesses for the near future.

Borko Kovacevic, Director of Marketing, Microsoft Singapore said: “Over the last decade, globalization and technology innovations have brought the world closer and fundamentally changed the way people live and work. We commissioned this study to understand how work and life have changed for employees in Asia Pacific and determine how well supported they are in being enabled to succeed.”

While technology plays a key role to enable ‘work from anywhere’ scenarios and higher productivity, there are other aspects such as organizational culture, policies, infrastructure, enabling collaboration or the ability to break down barriers to innovation which are becoming increasingly important for an organization to be competitive, especially when many are undergoing digital transformation of their businesses today.”

The findings clearly show that the traditional notion of work is changing, even within organizations in Singapore:

  1. The responsive organization:5% of respondents said that they are required to respond to internal stakeholders within four hours; and 57.5% said that they are required to respond to external customers within four hours. The gap between respondents working in SMBs and respondents working in organizations with more than 250 employees was significant, with the former indicating that they needed to be more responsive to both internal and external stakeholders.
  2. Work doesn’t end at 5.00pm: A majority (71.25%) said that they are still required to be contactable outside of work in order to complete their work effectively.
  3. Limited mobile productivity in a highly mobile workforce: 52% of respondents said they needed to be in the office to access special equipment or tools that are only available in the office.
  4. Bring-your-own-device and Bring-your-own-service culture is increasingly pervasive: Employees in Singapore are using more personal devices (46%) to get work done today. 54% are also using online tools that go beyond just email – document & file sharing, storage, virtual meetings and social.
  5. Achieving work life balance is challenging: 73% of respondents said that work life balance is a very important aspect of their job, with 42.5% felt that they had adequate balance today.

Organizations in Singapore are also making decent progress on adopting sustainable practices, with 76% of respondents saying their organizations are increasingly moving towards becoming paperless, below the regional average of 78%.

The New World of Work (NWoW) Index is derived from respondents who rated themselves highly in the three key pillars of people, place and technology. The score shows the number of employees over 100 who feel their employers are enabling them to be productive, collaborative and innovative while ensuring personal well-being.

Market Rank   Percentage using 4 or 5 productivity tools such as emails, file sharing, etc
Asia Pacific wide   44.00 71%
India 1 64.67 93%
Indonesia 2 59.00 72.5%
Philippines 3 58.67 75%
China 4 56.50 66.5%
Thailand 5 47.33 62.5%
Vietnam 6 45.50 81%
Malaysia 7 41.33 57%
Australia 8 39.33 50%
Singapore 9 39.17 54%
Hong Kong 10 37.17 53.5%
Taiwan 11 26.67 53.5%
Korea 12 23.33 49%

Some key noteworthy observations for professionals in the New World of Work, from the study are:

Employees in emerging markets feel they are better supported for a new world of work, are open to harness productivity tools to work better and smarter. They also clearly bring their own devices and services to the workplace to help them become more connected and productive. This was further reinforced by the insight that majority of respondents in these markets are using 4 or 5 productivity services today.

Employees in mature markets live in a world where advanced productivity tools are more readily available, but they do not harness online productivity tools as much as their counterparts in emerging markets. They may also be impeded by stricter policies or legacy processes & systems at the workplace.

54% of respondents in Singapore use at least 4 to 5 online services to enable their work needs (email, social, collaboration, virtual meetings, and cloud-based file sharing services). Of note, the difference between emerging (72.5% average) and mature (52% average) markets was stark.

In the new digital world, employees in emerging markets will leapfrog those in mature markets in becoming workers of the future.

Unlocking the New World of Work in Asia Pacific

When companies adopt the New World of Work principles, they are able to gain new business insights, realize greater operational efficiency, communicate and collaborate real time –all while reducing the impact on the environment.

In fact, the New World of Work presents four clear benefits today: a more productive workforce, a more collaborative workforce, a more innovative workforce and a happier workplace.

The top three benefits cited by respondents are:

  1. To be able to work productively from anywhere (58%)
  2. To be able to collaborate instantly with colleagues (52%)
  3. To be able to automate tasks (51.5%)

46% of respondents still do not have access to the breadth of tools in their workplace to be collaborative, break down barriers between organizations and distances as well as to share ideas easily.

With productivity and talent retention being a key concern, companies can no longer afford to ignore the needs of their employees to provide enhanced productivity as well as better work life integration in the New World of Work.

Technology is changing the shape of business today and plays a bigger role to enable organizations to bridge the gap to the New World of Work – collaboration, productivity, innovation, well-being. Here are four key steps for organizations to take:

  1. Communicate, collaborate, have meetings, share ideas real time from anywhere – with enterprise grade cloud solutions which enable email, social, document sharing, virtual meetings, file sharing.
  2. Work from any device: With 46% of total devices used– personal Smartphone, tablets, laptops – are for work, why not harness their potential to share ideas, provide real time insight on how the business is going – something which millennials do naturally anywhere.
  3. Enable secure remote working: Peace of mind with security for remote access and online solutions – enterprise grade solutions with easy device management on Windows Intune, data privacy and security policies which protect companies and their employees on Office 365.
  4. Democratize access to technology: Productivity tools need to be pervasively available across the workforce. In the study, respondents who hold managerial positions feel they are more responsive to stakeholders (36%) versus non-managerial positions (28%).

“Microsoft is reinventing productivity to empower every person and every organisation to do more and achieve more. Millions of organizations across Asia Pacific are already reaping the benefits of a more productive and collaborative work place with cloud and mobile optimized solutions such as Office 365 which includes Yammer for social and Skype for Business for virtual meetings, with all the security built in to allay concerns of moving to the cloud. We are clear that our goal is not to make more technology, but rather to make technology that does more for you and your business,” said Borko Kovacevic.

Microsoft’s New World of Work Study for Enterprises involved 400 respondents in Singapore and generated insights on their current work and life needs, and the gaps that exist in enabling them to thrive.

The New World of Work Index is derived from respondents who rated themselves highly in the three key pillars of people, place and technology and provides a comparison between markets. The Asia Pacific mean score was 44 out of 100, while scores ranged from as low as 23 in Korea, to as high as 65 in India. Singapore scored a 39 and was ranked ninth among the 13 markets scored.

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