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How to successfully modernise the workplace

Nurdianah Md Nur
Nurdianah Md Nur • 5 min read
How to successfully modernise the workplace
Irrespective of the industry, organisations should ensure a positive employee experience to attract and retain workers, utilising technology to achieve this goal. Photo: Shutterstock
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According to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2023 report, seven out of 10 leaders in Asia Pacific (APAC) believe their companies will have to scale back progress on flexible working. This might not be well-received by working professionals, especially those who discovered during the Covid-19 lockdowns that some of their tasks can be done remotely.

Case in point: 67% of workers based in the office told HP Inc that it is important to have the option of working remotely. Nearly three-quarters (72%) are willing to take a salary cut to work in companies that allow them to work wherever they want. “Employees feel empowered when they are given the autonomy to decide the way of working that is most effective for them,” says Fiona Lee, managing director of HP Singapore.

Organisations, she adds, should provide flexible work arrangements that address employees’ needs. “Equipping employees with dynamic work devices, trusting that their employees are working as hard as they can, and providing clear communication channels are great ways to ensure teams work efficiently in a hybrid environment.”

Ling Lu, director of global product marketing at Jabra, agrees on the need to empower employees with the right tools for hybrid work. She says: “The future office is dynamic, untethered from fixed locations as universal cloud tech and communication platforms support it.”

She says work can happen anywhere: During commutes, on the street, or in cafes. “With noise cancellation and open-plan designs, advanced hardware can encourage collaboration and diverse workspaces by reducing background distractions and fostering social interactions.”

Lu also suggests integrating augmented reality or more sophisticated video and audio software to make virtual meetings and training more immersive in a hybrid workplace.

See also: How tech companies are retaining female talent in Asia Pacific (Part 2)

Engaging employees using tech

When organisations adopt hybrid work, fewer impromptu conversations and collaboration at the workplace become major concerns. This, combined with higher workloads and extended remote hours, may result in disengaged or languishing employees, who might do the minimum and show less loyalty to their employers.

To avoid this, organisations can use IT tools to enhance employee engagement. “We expect to see an increase in online community spaces with central hubs that provide employees with easy access to internal resources; live activity feeds on the latest news and updates about the company, feedback via surveys and more — all within one platform. 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,” says Ricky Kapur, head of Asia Pacific at Zoom.

See also: How tech companies are retaining female talent in Asia Pacific (Part 1)

Moreover, organisations should consider incorporating technology in workplaces to monitor and boost employee health and well-being without being overly intrusive. Jabra’s Lu says utilising tools like AI-based therapy chatbots, health-tracking platforms, and wearables can help track signs of burnout and guide leaders to take action before the situation worsens.

“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,” adds Lu.

Empower employees with AI

The popularity of ChatGPT and other generative AI tools last year demonstrated that not all AI needs technical expertise or is complicated to use. Users are trying out generative AI for tasks like simplifying content creation and reviewing codes, realising its time-saving advantages, even without their company’s formal approval.

Ilya Gutlin, senior vice president for Asia Pacific at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, expects this trend to continue. “In 2024, generative AI will be used extensively in business data analytics to augment productivity through smarter automation. AI and machine learning will also be increasingly incorporated into cybersecurity solutions that detect and respond to threats in real-time, thereby minimising network downtime and enhancing the quality of experience for IT teams, enabling administrators to react faster than ever.”

As organisations ramp up their AI usage, they require a purpose-built, highly scalable, and flexible digital infrastructure to meet AI’s computing and networking needs. “Many facilities are not equipped to support the high-performance computing and high-bandwidth networking requirements that AI workloads require, so it is just as important for organisations to look at setting up the right foundation for future-ready IT infrastructure,” says Gutlin.

Meanwhile, Zoom’s Kapur highlights the need to provide upskilling opportunities. Research from the international professional association ISACA reveals that only 5% of Asian organisations provided AI training to all their employees last year.

He adds: “To keep pace with AI, the entire workforce will require the right training to incorporate these solutions to maximise employee performance and keep teams efficient to unlock AI’s true business value.”

Employees, especially the younger ones, no longer adhere to traditional work concepts like being in the office daily and committing to just one company throughout their careers. Companies must now focus on delivering an optimal employee experience to attract and retain talent. This involves providing workplace flexibility, employee wellness and equipping them with effective IT tools to maximise their contributions to the business.

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