“Office-Less” Will Soon Become the Business Norm of the Future” says Andrew Chung, CEO, Compass Offices

July 27, 20168:45 am1963 views

Through an exclusive candid conversation with Andrew Chung, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Compass Offices, we at HR in Asia derive insights on the entrepreneurship trends, new business models at work and the booming start-up culture in Singapore, which has facilitated creation of more job opportunities in a talent constrained economy.

We also seek to understand the challenges to talent retention in Asia Pacific, and how rise of the shared economy has contributed to the start-up boom to help businesses collaborate better, exchange ideas and network easily across markets.

  1. Cite reasons, why do employees in Singapore enjoy better work-life balance than those in Hong Kong.

According to survey by Morgan McKinley in 2014, compared to other APAC counterparts, Hong Kong employees appear to be least aware of flexible working options that are available for them, in their organizations. This is why around 70 percent of the employees feel the obligation to stay longer in their offices than stipulated hours mentioned in their contracts.

Compared to Hong Kong, the discussion over work-life balance in Singapore has been initiated long before and the impact is now being witnessed.

Many companies have now realised the importance of a healthy-work life balance for their employees; and the government has launched couple of initiatives such as the WorkPro programme, which provides funds and/ or incentive for any company that strives to help employees accomplish work responsibilities alongside personal needs.

  1. When it comes to employee benefits and favourable policies, which is the most favourable economy for employees and employers in APAC?

Each country has championed different policies to encourage better productivity and provided different benefits. For instance:

  • Compared to Hong Kong, Singapore offers lower cost of living, less expensive office rental spaces to be strategically located in SEA.
  • According to findings by Randstad Hong Kong Q1 Work Monitor Research earlier this year, Singaporeans show more interest in working with colleagues of different nationalities and cultures than Hong Kongers.
  • Hong Kong is keen to maintain its status as the financial centre in the region, while Singapore is keen to be the leader in technology.
Andrew Chung, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Compass Offices

Andrew Chung, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Compass Offices

  1. How do you think companies in APAC can overcome bottlenecks to International talent mobility and retain on-demand mobile workforce?

Distance and mobility should no longer limit companies to hire talented staff. With shared offices and technology to avail, companies are enabled to hire individuals remotely.

  1. What are the challenges to employee retention in Asia Pacific markets?

Competitors from the same industry are no longer the main challenge to employee retention. With the rise of technology and the trend of a sharing economy, many people are turning to entrepreneurship and establishing start-ups.

Our sister company, Encore Professional Services, that supports businesses with company formation and outsourced payroll and accounting services, has seen a significant increase in the number of young ambitious professionals intending to start their own business.

Looking back in time, five to six years ago and now, young professionals today are highly mobile and willing to relocate to advance their career. Another challenge is the change in the workforce demographic. In emerging markets, it is easier to find younger and highly digitized talent pool, than in developed markets such as Singapore and Australia, wherein aging population is of critical concern.

See: Singapore Ranks Third Among Top 50 ‘Future-Ready Economies’ Worldwide

  1. Take us through some of the key differences in workplace culture drawing comparisons between Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysian markets?

Despite close proximity across countries in Asia, each has different and unique styles. For instance:

  • People in Southeast Asia are generally perceived to be diplomatic and collaborative, while those from North Asia place more emphasis on social status.
  • Both Singapore and Hong Kong have a highly trained, well-educated work force. Hong Kong has greater numbers of local Cantonese/ Mandarin speaking talent, given the link to China. While Singapore, as knowledge based economy, has a large pool of English speaking talent.
  1. How do you think the Government of Singapore is supporting growth of the start-up culture and entrepreneurship development in the region?

The Singapore Government has implemented special tax schemes to support newly incorporated companies, in addition to providing a start-up cluster ‘Block 71’ and research resources. Recently, the government launched SG-Innovate where it serves as one stop shop to boost Singapore’s position as a financial technology hub.

  1. How should HR professionals manage virtual teams working across geographies and bridge cultural gaps to harness key talent potentials and retain talented workforce?

To manage virtual teams working across geographies successfully, HR managers should:

  • Define the right culture and team dynamics. A right culture and shared common purpose will give your employees the same cause to unite.
  • Hire the right people. To kick-start operations, companies should start with hiring the right candidate for the right job. For remote businesses, more entrepreneurial, result-driven and self-motivated candidates should be highly preferred.
  1. Do you think “office-less” will soon become the business norm of the future? If so, why?

Yes, I think “office-less” will soon become a business norm of the future. This is for a number of reasons:

  1. New generation of workforce

The 2016 Greater China Employee Intentions report by Michael Page suggests that half of their respondents are keen to see flexibility in their working hours to become one of the key benefits they receive from their employers.

With more millennials and generation Z entering the workforce, businesses should think beyond salary or promotion to attract talent. By 2020, 60 percent of the millennial workforce lives in Asia. This generation is more entrepreneurial, mobile and is likely to choose growth and flexible working over salary, when selecting the company they would like to work for.

  1. Technology as the Touch Point

IT has transformed and automated routine job roles to challenge legacy work models. Technology has emerged to become an integral part of our lives not just in Asia, but across the globe. It comes as no surprise to understand from the recent research titled, ‘IT Budget Drivers, Trends and Concerns in 2016’, which states Asia Pacific to be the region that spends the largest IT budget globally.

The hot topics of boardroom discussion on Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) are early signs that in the years to come, there will be more technology platforms, which will allow businesses and employees to stay connected and engaged with their work at any point in time, wherever they are.

  1. Shared offices, preferred

The rise of technology has also meant the rise of the sharing economy, which allows businesses to access an asset rather than owning them. For businesses, this is cost efficient and flexible to meet business’ demands.

Using a serviced office, businesses can focus on their core business, and benefit from a wide range of in-house services such as having someone to answer your calls to setting up a company.

From a commercial standpoint, working from shared offices means less real estate costs. According to a Global Workplace Analytics survey carried out between 2005 and 2014, businesses in the U.S. could save about $11,000 per person every year and $500 billion per year in costs related to electricity, real estate and turnover, through telecommuting arrangements.

For employees, working in a shared office space provides them with an opportunity to be part of a community, who are like minded, share ideas and network easily, access to mentorship and increased collaboration.

Also read: Hong Kong vs. Singapore: Who is More Optimistic about Business Growth in Asia Pacific?

Image credit: infopier.sg

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