The pandemic has put employee well-being at the forefront of the business agenda. Almost four-fifths (85.4 percent) of Asia Pacific (APAC) organizations agree that home-working during the pandemic has been challenging for employees, according to the 2020 Intelligent Workplace Report by NTT, the global technology services company. Connectivity and workspace issues such as bandwidth, a feeling of isolation, and a lack of dedicated workspace have all contributed to their concerns. Organizations have to look at every aspect of workplace strategy to optimize employee experience, these include; culture, technology, and location.
The report found that 92.1 percent of the respondents in APAC believe employee needs will be at the heart of future workplace design. 80.8 percent of organizations agree employees would prefer to have the choice and flexibility to work in an office when it is safe to do so, and 92.1 percent agreed that face-to-face meeting time is essential to build a sense of teamwork and/or when meeting clients.
As the world continues to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19, organizations must develop a more robust strategy to permanently provide for their distributed workforce, says the study. While 93 percent of organizations recognize the value of employee experience as a crucial strategic differentiator, just 39.2 percent are very satisfied with their current capability.
For now, a third of all APAC businesses (35.2 percent) have changed their IT policy to help employees work within a new operating model and half (51 percent) have deployed new communication and productivity tools. In many cases, employees have been left to use their personal devices and applications which has rapidly increased the risk of security vulnerabilities. In fact, only 58.6 percent have increased their IT security capabilities to keep their organization and employees secure.
John Lombard, CEO – Asia Pacific at NTT Ltd. comments, “The connected employee – their wellness and employee experience – must be at the heart of the future workplace strategy. Helping people stay connected and keeping their data secure is key to looking after the workforce and maintaining productivity and effectiveness. Yet this must be underpinned by a long-term strategy for digital transformation, with the roll out of new technologies, policies, and of course training so employees feel comfortable with new platforms.”
New workplace strategies today for the office of tomorrow
According to the report findings, almost half (46.2 percent) of businesses are already reviewing the general office design and how best to align with employees’ new needs.
Respondents are somewhat polarised on what to do with office space in general, with over a third (34.4 percent) of global C-suite execs saying they are looking to reduce office space, yet almost a quarter (24 percent) plan to increase it. That said, most agree that the physical space will have a more defined, flexible use to provide for a more collaborative environment enabling:
- Connecting the distributed workforce: 54.9 percent will install video conferencing/video collaboration spaces to bring remote and office employees together
- Facilitate creativity and collaboration: 42.3 percent will implement creative/thinking spaces
- Drive activity-based work initiatives: over a quarter (26.5 percent) will reduce individual office desk space with 29.9 percent increasing meeting spaces
We now have access to a vast range of digital platforms and applications, but the rapid adoption of these new technologies has not always been supported with adequate training. To motivate employees to use new technology, it is important to clearly articulate the benefit to them as individuals, especially if they are working remotely.