“The COVID-19 crisis forced organizations around the world to reevaluate many aspects of their work, workforce, and workplace, while also presenting new risks and opportunities.” – Marino Mugayar-Baldocchi, Mckinsey & Company
Using insights from our data partner GWI, we learn new ways companies can use to adapt to evolving norms in the workplace, and how they can put employees’ concerns at the forefront of HR decisions.
#1 Hybrid mode – Flexibility with workplaces and hours
Perhaps the most immediate and far-reaching Covid-related impact on our work lives is the increase in remote work and the growing popularity of hybrid mode of working. In APAC, only 17% of employees prefer to work exclusively in the office post pandemic. The most popular way of working is hybrid, with 33% preferring to work mostly remotely, with a few days in the office per week.
Workers have ideas about what’ll help them be happier and more productive at work. 53% of employees in Asia would like greater flexibility in work hours. Those who are broadly permitted to work flexible hours are more likely to say their work-life balance has improved (+9%) and that their productivity has risen (+23%) during their time of remote working.
As the skills shortage continues, and the workforce demands flexible work schemes, companies must develop talent attraction strategies to ensure that the employees are happy and productive at the same time.
For example, Twitter is letting people work wherever they want, while Apple is getting flack for their inflexible remote-working policies.
Meanwhile, thousands of UK workers recently begun the world’s biggest trial of the four-day week model. If successful, we could see more of this way of working in the future.
#2 Cybersecurity – Increasing cyberattacks since the pandemic
With evolving technology and an increasingly interconnected world, cyber threats and hacking have become more and more prevalent. Covid-19 has been a major driving factor in the uptick of cyber attacks such as phishing scams. According to Sophos’ latest Phishing Insights Report, 77% of respondents from the Philippines, and 70% from Australia, said that they have experienced an increase in the number of phishing attacks on their organisation since the start of the pandemic.
As a result, 74% of APAC business leaders listed enhancements of cybersecurity measures as a priority for additional investment.
The increase in remote work has driven the need for a better understanding of cybersecurity. While most cybersecurity investment in the past has been focused on security at the office, with many new remote workers, companies are now contending with the security challenges of multiple remote devices, and vulnerable networks. Organisations must implement cyber awareness programs to address phishing attacks, including computer-based training, human-led training, and phishing simulations.
When software providers marketing their products, remember to address companies’ top pain point, assuring your clients on the capability to prevent cyberattacks.
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#3 Financial Strain – Workers are feeling the pinch
Rising global inflation could weaken ASEAN’s economic recovery in 2022. The average inflation rate in ASEAN countries increased from 0.9% in January 2021 to 4.7% in April 2022. Four ASEAN economies have experienced a rapid increase in the inflation rate, including Indonesia (149 %), Singapore (161%), Laos (206 %), and Thailand (267%). With the persisting cost-of-living crisis, some workers are struggling to make ends meet.
According to ELMO software’s latest Employee Sentiment Index report, 45% of employees in Australia are struggling to meet their basic living costs. 70% of respondents said the cost-of-living pressures are negatively impacting their wellbeing, particularly among millennials and Gen Z.
Business should be holding discussions with employees around how their company can help, such as offering financial advice, salary sacrifice schemes, employee discounts, and loans/savings programs. Such movements would help companies to gain good reputation.
For example, in the UK, the supermarket Sainsbury’s has increased staff discounts. MEDEF, the largest employer federation in France, has proposed to replace transport assistance paid by companies to intermunicipalities through a gas or vehicle allowance, to ease the load on workers.
#4 Mental Health – Mental health conditions on the rise
Longer working hours mean that many are feeling emotional strain right now. 54% of Hong Kong-based employees indicated that they had experienced high levels of stress in the last year. Sleep-related and mental health conditions are creeping up, and they’re more prevalent among young people, women, and pregnant couples. However, only 31% are comfortable to talk about their mental health conditions in APAC.
Overall in Asia, only 18% of employees received mental health support from their companies as a benefit. However, such benefits are in high demand post pandemic. 52% would like employers to offer mental wellbeing leave, while 33% sought for mental health insurance.
As more digital solutions are launched, and demands from employees increase, more organisations are investing in building a healthy and resilient workforce. Companies need to develop a well being strategy for their staff, as hybrid work becomes the new norm, help needs to be available anytime, anywhere.
#5 Communication – Video conferencing and collaboration tools are basic needs in workplace
With Covid brining people to a virtual work setup, Microsoft office is not the only must-have tool in the workplace; the need for communication becomes more critical than it was in the past. In APAC, 57% of employees communicated with each other via video calls on a daily basis in Q3 2021, with a 13% increase from pre-Covid era. One key benefit of videoconferencing tech is that it makes hosting meetings very easy and accessible, while the downside is that the average number of meetings has gone up.
What’s more, company strategy conveyed to employees more frequently by line mangers instead of C-suite, and collaboration tools such as Slack and Zoom have seen a 42% increase in usage by workers, which get thee word out quickly and plainly.
Compared to 2019, more business professionals rate their company as “excellent” in areas like communication and collaboration, which is one of the important factors for job loyalists. Companies should also enhance cross-team collaboration and make access to leadership easier via Q&A meetings or company webinars.
On the other hand, when collaboration tool providers conveying messages to target audience, emphasise on the advantages they could bring to employees, such as productivity and transparency.
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