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Microsoft finds Asia office workers do not feel empowered

A Microsoft Asia Workplace 2020 study has found that employees do not feel ready for the digital age and want more access to newer and collaborative technologies to improve productivity and happiness.

Covering close to 4200 working professionals from 14 markets in Asia, the study sought to comprehend the change in worker behaviour and the workplace gaps that got in the way of productivity, collaboration and flexible work practices.

The study found that two-thirds of Australian respondents felt they were mobile workers and did at least 20% of their work outside their office.

But just 45% said they were empowered by the culture and management at their workplaces to work together productively and collaboratively.

Apart from this, only one-third were sure that their employers were ready to ensure that every employee was included in closing the workers' digital skills gaps.

Given that a vast majority of employees in Asia use Microsoft Windows and Office software at work, iTWire asked if there was any question in the study to ascertain whether the feelings of not being ready for the digital age were brought about by the software they were using.

Additionally, given that 27% hoped to have access to information and data on their mobile devices, Microsoft was asked whether this meant that it was out of the picture given that Windows mobile devices are more or less non-existent.

Given this scenario, Microsoft was also asked which mobile device it would recommend to workers in the Asia region if they wished to be digitally up to the mark and able to compete.

A company spokesperson said answers to these queries would be forthcoming.

“As Australia primes itself to become the most connected market with more than half of all mobile connections originating from the region by 2021, organisations need to rethink how they empower their workforce with the right culture, policy, infrastructure and tools to maximise their potential," said Sharon Schoenborn, director, Office Business Group, Microsoft Australia.

"This means enabling collaboration from anywhere, on any device. However, it is also critical for business leaders to evaluate and implement changes to counter cultural and management challenges that are hindering employees from working seamlessly from wherever they are, which will in turn, hinder an organisation’s growth and progress in the digital age."

The study found that changes in workplaces had led to new ways of working. But it found the following gaps that hindered collaborative and productive outcomes:

  • Too many face-to-face meetings taking up productive time (24%);
  • Teams are too rigid and not open to new ways of work (23%);
  • Company-wide meetings are too impersonal in communicating organisational goals (20%);
  • Teams are taking too long to respond to internal issues (20%); and
  • Team members are not accommodating with flexi-work schedules (16%).

Building more collaborative teams was thought to be possible, provided there was support from managers (41%), strong leadership and vision (38%) and diverse team members (31%).

The study also found that respondents wanted better devices to improve productivity. Beyond hardware, 27% hoped to have mobile access to information and data and 25% wanted access to cloud-based productivity tools.

Regarding emerging technologies that could help build better work environments by 2020:

  • 26% looked forward to real-time intelligence that would help them make informed decisions at work;
  • 25% thought artificial intelligence would help perform tasks independently; and
  • 24% would like virtual workspaces that support instant messaging and document-sharing.

Said Schoenborn: “As the nature of work changes, how employees collaborate and work together will be affected as well. It is critical for business and HR leaders to seek ways to better empower individuals and remove barriers to collaborate for the digital age, especially when the study clearly identifies gaps that can be minimised with technology.

"However, it is also important for businesses to bridge the leadership and employee gap with more focus on people and culture.”


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.