Asian woman working from home on an online meeting.

SINGAPORE: Modernising the workplace takes centre stage as Fiona Lee, Managing Director of HP Singapore, emphasises that “Employees feel empowered when they are given the autonomy to decide the way of working that is most effective for them.”

According to The Edge Singapore, HP Inc.’s survey echoes this sentiment, with 67% of office-based workers expressing the importance of having the option to work remotely. 72% are even willing to take a salary cut for the freedom to choose their work location.

In response to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2023 report, which indicates a potential pullback in flexible working progress by seven out of 10 leaders in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, a disconnect emerges.

This poses a challenge for working professionals, particularly those who have embraced remote work during the COVID-19 lockdowns, valuing the adaptability of their work arrangements.

To address this, Lee suggests that organisations adopt flexible work arrangements tailored to meet employee needs. This involves providing dynamic work devices, trusting employees to work efficiently, and maintaining clear communication channels for effective teamwork in a hybrid environment.

Ling Lu, Director of Global Product Marketing at Jabra, is in the same boat, emphasising the need to empower employees with the right tools for hybrid work.

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The future office is dynamic, untethered from fixed locations as universal cloud tech and communication platforms support it,” she said.

Lu points out that work can happen anywhere – during commutes, on the street, or in cafes. Advanced hardware featuring noise cancellation and open-plan designs can encourage collaboration and diverse workspaces by reducing background distractions and fostering social interactions.

She also recommends integrating augmented reality and sophisticated video and audio software to enhance the immersive nature of virtual meetings and training in a hybrid workplace.

Keeping team collaborations engaged with technology

As organisations transition to hybrid work models, concerns about fewer impromptu conversations and collaboration at the workplace have emerged. Higher workloads and extended remote hours may lead to employee disengagement.

To address this, IT tools play a crucial role in enhancing employee engagement.

Ricky Kapur, Head of Asia Pacific at Zoom, anticipates an increase in online community spaces with central hubs providing easy access to internal resources, live activity feeds, feedback surveys, and more – all within one platform.

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With increasingly distributed and diverse workforces, these employee engagement solutions can help keep employees involved, informed and connected seamlessly with teams from anywhere in the world,” he said.

Moreover, organisations should consider incorporating technology to monitor and boost employee health and well-being. Ling Lu from Jabra suggests utilising tools like AI-based therapy chatbots, health-tracking platforms, and wearables to track signs of burnout and guide leaders in taking proactive measures.

According to Lu, “Ensuring employee well-being will become a part of broader business strategies. It will no longer be the sole responsibility of the human resource team. Instead, it will form a key part of managerial duties where provisioning self-help resources and implementing measures that ensure work is a non-toxic and inclusive environment are crucial.”

Empowering employees with AI

The increasing acceptance of generative AI tools like ChatGPT in the previous year highlights that  “not all AI needs technical expertise or is complicated to use.”

Ilya Gutlin, Senior Vice President for Asia Pacific at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, predicts extensive use of generative AI in business data analytics in 2024 to “augment productivity through smarter automation.”

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Gutlin also emphasises the integration of AI and machine learning into cybersecurity solutions to detect and respond to threats in real time. As organisations ramp up their AI usage, the importance of a purpose-built, highly scalable, and flexible digital infrastructure becomes evident.

Zoom’s Kapur notes the need for upskilling opportunities, citing research from ISACA that reveals only 5% of Asian organisations provided AI training to all employees last year. To keep pace with AI, the entire workforce requires the right training to unlock its true business value and maximise employee performance.

Companies need to adapt as employees, especially the younger ones, are changing how they like to work.

To attract and keep talented people, it’s crucial for companies to offer flexible work options, prioritise employee well-being, and provide the right tech tools to help them contribute better to the business. /TISG

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