Bridging connectivity in and out of APAC offices
When most of the world went into lockdown in early 2020, organisations around the Asia Pacific (APAC) region were faced with the mountainous challenge of suddenly being able to update their tech capabilities to support a massive influx of workers at home.
Those early days were challenging, and while there were definite teething issues shifting towards adopting remote working arrangements practically overnight, by relying on a productive mixture of digital tools, organisations managed to make the transition, some with minimal disruptions.
The results were surprising, with many staff reporting issues at first, before settling into new routines, accessing their workloads online, and in some instances being better “connected” to their colleagues and departments with which they had precious little contact in the past.
Today, APAC employees are adapting well to flexible work arrangements, with nine out of 10 workers surveyed in APAC saying they prefer flexibility in when they work, while 88% would like flexibility in where they work.
Australia has, for the most part, had a better grip on its pandemic response than much of the rest of the world. But workers have had to move in and out of their workplace as safety measures evolved. A recent survey from PwC has found that three-quarters of local workers say their ideal work environment is a mix of remote and in-person working, a concept becoming commonly known as hybrid working.
But hybrid work can have its own set of challenges, not least the mental wellbeing of employees, many of whom have had to work longer and harder without the in-person benefits of breaks and social interactions.
IT teams around APAC face their own challenges of keeping a distributed workforce in borderless communication, needing to replicate the perception of in-person meetings with seamless video collaboration that reduces any jarring miscommunication hurdles. The effects of these changes are clearly being felt around the region, because while nearly half (48%) of APAC employees in the EY report say their organisational culture has improved over the course of the pandemic, the same percentage are calling for companies across APAC to invest in at-home technology to ensure greater productivity while hybrid working arrangements continue.
With such an unusual set of circumstances affecting workers, the video communications and collaboration platform Zoom – which took the world by storm last year, connecting businesses and communities – surveyed over 1,000 Australian knowledge workers, to find out just how crucial was connectivity in developing a happy and productive workforce.
It might be accurate to say that having the right technology in place to deliver exceptional user experience for video conferencing has never been more critical to business success than it is right now, but the well-being of employees is also a top concern. One of the key findings of the Zoom How Australians Are Connecting: Connectivity Report 2020 was that workers with higher levels of connectivity are happier at work, more likely to stay at their companies, and more likely to perform better in their roles.
In fact, hybrid workers are happier than their wholly-remote or wholly-office-based counterparts, feeling twice as likely to feel that workplace productivity technology has improved their work-life balance. Hybrid workers are also 250% more likely to feel workplace technology gives them more time for sleep and exercise – key indicators in determining both physical and mental health for hybrid-working staff.
The report did not find significant variances in employees’ connectivity scores across different demographics such as age, gender, geographic location, or company size, meaning that for the most part, employees across a broad spectrum of work situations that had a higher connectivity score are more likely to report higher job satisfaction, perform better at work, and be more productive.
Interesting takeaways from the report include the changing perception that employees are more productive in the office. For instance, a platform like Zoom greatly reduces the friction of interacting between workers based in the office, those based completely remotely, and the ones with hybrid work patterns – the seamless transition means the technological disruption of video collaboration fades to the background, enabling hybrid staff to feel more empowered in their work and enhancing their efficiency with 69% reporting that meetings are much shorter now, freeing up their time to focus on other tasks or on themselves.
In line with an empowered workforce, the survey shows that the ability to choose one’s workplace technology would result in a higher connectivity score, delivering better results down the line. Selecting the technology they use gave the choosers more confidence, and they were 61% more likely to feel included at work, and nearly a third thought accessing needed information was easier and quicker.
It should come as little surprise that video calls have been identified as the number one means for technology workers to stay connected, with two-thirds saying that video conferencing is essential for their job. In lieu of emails and other non-face-to-face communication channels like IM, seven out of 10 professionals say it is easier to connect with senior colleagues via video communication platforms.
What’s clear from the report is that technology has become an essential tool for staying connected, but by no means does it guarantee a more connected workforce. True, the technology is critical and it provides much-needed support for workers to collaborate and to enhance productivity, but company leaders need to realise a people-centric approach helps to dictate its use.
Having the tools is not enough; the boardroom needs to understand the application of them for staff. Managers also need to better appreciate (and feel more connected with) staff to get the utmost out of such technological means. And the workers’ perception of connectivity in Asia Pacific is shifting rapidly, so to learn more about how workforces are connecting in such interesting times, download the How Australians Are Connecting: Connectivity Report 2020 here. To learn more and to find a solution that’s right for you, reach out to a representative today.
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