One of the top benefits Millennials want is a flexible working schedule and the ability to work from home. With Millennials consisting 50% of the workforce by 2020, are today's organisations prepared to give these employees what they want? According to Microsoft's Asia Workplace 2020 study, employers still have a long way to go.
Surveying 4,175 respondents in 14 Asia markets including Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore (301 respondents), the study found that despite 62% of Singapore respondents spending at least a fifth of their time working outside the office, only 37% of respondents in Singapore feel empowered by their organisation's culture and managers to be able to work together productively and collaboratively.
Majority of the respondents (80%) value work-life integration today, where the boundaries of work and life have blurred, but have enabled mobile professionals to be able to collaborate and work virtually.
However, the study revealed several structural challenges to be addressed within the workplace in order for organisations to ready themselves for the digital age, as well as flexi-work practices - and HR is one of them. They are:
1. Getting organisational leaders to drive flexi-work practices: Only 26% agree that their organisation’s leadership is committed in bridging the digital skills gap in the workplace.
2. Having the necessary organisational culture: Only 23% agree that their organisation has invested in culture development through training and development led by HR.
3. Access to the right technology: Only 21% feel that their organisation has invested in analytics and data tools to help them make informed and timely decisions; only 22% agree that their organisation has given them tools to simplify workflows.
Beyond hardware requirements, the study further found that 34% hope to have access to information and data on mobile devices, 26% wish for cloud-based productivity tools and 21% hope for real-time collaboration capabilities.
At yesterday's media roundtable unveiling the study's findings, when it comes to the transformation towards a digital workplace, Bryon Rader, Microsoft Office division lead, Asia Pacific, Microsoft Asia Pacific told Human Resources: "HR has to take the lead in this transformation and really think about the modern workplace. If you don’t have the right policies, it doesn’t matter what kind of infrastructure you put in place or what technology you use.
"HR drives a lot of the culture of the organisation and a lot of the people policies - flexible work policies. If you’re HR and you require everyone to come in at 9.30am to check in with a time card and check out, it doesn’t matter what tools you have, you’re not going to get the modern workplace that will attract the Millennials which is a big issue for the company."
Kevin Wo, managing director, Microsoft Singapore added that while IT plays a role to get the technology up in place, "HR plays a very important role to set the vision of the kind of culture and practices we want to put in place for the organisation."
Wo concluded that as the nature of work changes, "it is critical for business and HR leaders to seek ways to better empower individuals and remove barriers to collaborate for the digital age. However, it is also important for businesses to also bridge the leadership and employee gap with more focus on people and culture."
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