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Hybrid Work perception around New Zealand and APAC

Posted on 22-Apr-2021 11:18 | Filed under: News

Both Microsoft and Unisys have released separate reports on modern flexible work and how organisations and employees are adapting to it.


Microsoft Corp has announced the findings for New Zealand from its first annual Work Trend Index. Titled “The Next Great Disruption is Hybrid Work – Are We Ready?” the report uncovers eight hybrid work trends every business leader needs to know as we enter this new era of work. The report indicates that business leaders in New Zealand should resist the urge to see hybrid work as business as usual. 


“The world is on the brink of a disruption as great as last year’s sudden shift to remote work: the move to hybrid — a blended model where some employees return to the workplace and others continue to work from home,” says Russell Craig, National Technology Officer at Microsoft New Zealand. “Adapting to this new hybrid model will require rethinking of long-held assumptions. The choices you make today will impact your organisation for years to come. It’s a moment that requires clear vision and a growth mindset. These decisions will impact everything from how you shape culture, to how you attract and retain talent, to how you can better foster collaboration and innovation.” 


One thing is abundantly clear: Microsoft is urging businesses to recognise that work is no longer bound to traditional notions of time and space when it comes to how, when, and where we work. Here are eight emerging trends: 


1. Flexible work is here to stay: 71 percent of workers in New Zealand surveyed want flexible remote work options to continue, while at the same time, 65 percent are craving more in-person time with their teams. Business leaders (69 percent) in New Zealand are recognising the workplace evolution and are more likely planning to redesign office space for hybrid work.
2. Leaders are out of touch with employees and need a wake-up call: Research shows that 76 percent of leaders in New Zealand say they are thriving right now – 35 percentage points higher than those without decision making power.
3. High productivity is masking an exhausted workforce: 51 percent of workers in New Zealand feel overworked and 45 percent feel exhausted. 
4. Gen Z is at risk and will need to be re-energised: 54 percent of this generation in New Zealand — those between the ages of 18 and 25 — say they are merely surviving or flat-out struggling.
5. Shrinking networks are endangering innovation: Aggregate trends across billions of Microsoft Teams meetings and Outlook emails show interactions with our broader networks diminished with the move to remote work. 17 percent of workers in New Zealand experienced decreased interactions with coworkers with the move to remote work.
6. Authenticity will spur productivity and wellbeing: Coworkers leaned on each other in new ways to get through the last year. Some workers in New Zealand have cried with a colleague (20 percent), and others have met their colleagues’ pets or families virtually (18 percent). These increased interactions have led to 40 percent of workers in New Zealand feeling like they can be their full authentic selves at work this year. 
7. Talent is everywhere in a hybrid work world: More than half (56%) of those surveyed in New Zealand are planning to move to a new location this year because of remote work options. This has also led to 48 percent of workers and 66 percent of Gen Z in New Zealand likely to consider leaving their employers this year. 
8. More employers prioritise work-life balance: 61 percent of workers in New Zealand think that their employer cares about their work-life balance. 


Karin Kimbrough, Chief Economist at LinkedIn, says, “During this pandemic we’ve observed a swift acceleration of certain pre-COVID trends. But perhaps one of the most exciting trends is this rise in remote work. As opportunity is democratised with remote work and talent movement, we’ll see a spread of skills across the country and this is the time for business leaders to take the opportunity to access different skills and talent not previously available to them.” 


The Unisys report points out that 64% of Asia Pacific organisations plan to change their operating model by 2022, driven by the desire to improve their employee experience. However, leaders and employees have different views on the technologies and policies required to achieve greater productivity and an ideal employee experience.
The findings are included in a new IDC white paper, sponsored by Unisys, titled “Digital Workplace Insights™: Seeking Digital and Experience Parity to Support the Hybrid  Workforce.”


The survey found that before the pandemic, 5.2% of the workforce across Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore worked remotely - the highest of the four regions surveyed. COVID-19 forced a rapid move to remote working in 2020 with more than one third (36%) of this workforce working remotely by November 2020. Based on this experience, the majority of employers (74%) and employees (70%) agree that working remotely is just as, or more, productive than working in an office. While some roles will return to the office by 2022, business leaders estimate 24% of their workforce will work remotely – more than seven times higher than before the pandemic.
Forty percent of Asia Pacific employees prefer remote working, higher than North America (34%), Europe (35%) and Latin America (39%). Globally, the highest preference is among Millennials, born 1981-1996 (47%) compared to just 18% of Baby Boomers, born 1946-64.


“This shift to a large proportion of employees working remotely, as well as across a hybrid of offices, other facilities and in the field, demands digital parity – where all workers have secure access to the resources required to do their jobs, no matter their preferred device or location. However, the most successful organisations will be those who offer experience parity – this requires thinking beyond just technology and considering the organisational structure, policies, procedures and culture required to ensure an excellent employee experience where people can engage effectively with each other, collaborate and work productively in an agile work environment,” said Leon Sayers Advisory Director at Unisys Asia Pacific.


The top three reasons given by Asia Pacific business leaders to change their operating model by 2022 are better employee experience (71%), employee productivity (56%) and employee safety (56%). However, the survey revealed a disconnect between Asia Pacific leaders and employees about what technology and policies would improve the remote working experience.


When looking at what policy changes would provide a better employee experience Leaders are focused on employee safety wanting commuter benefits to reduce the risk of exposure going to and from the workplace (33%), procedures to identify employees with symptoms (30%), extra security policies for entering facilities (31%) and self-quarantine for workers who had been exposed to COVID-19 (29%). Whereas employees want more liberal remote work from home policies (28%), updated leave options due to COVID-19 (25%) and ways to identify if employees have COVID-19 symptoms (24%).


“To create a great employee experience, employers need to understand what technology, processes and policies their people require to do their jobs effectively. This requires two-way conversations with their teams and a preparedness to change existing procedures. The right devices and sufficient connectivity are fundamentals for remote workers to create digital parity. However, experience parity is driven by things like equal access to IT support as well as employee recognition for their accomplishments no matter where or when they work – they don’t want to be left in a vacuum. They also want to tap into the flexibility of the hybrid work environment to achieve better work-life balance. But they don’t want to be lumped with extra costs to work from home. These elements help create employee experience parity and must be factored into an overall organisational change management approach to successfully move to a hybrid work environment,” explained Mr Sayers.


The reports can be downloaded separately:


Insights to a Digital Workplace Model | Unisys


The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work—Are We Ready? (Microsoft)