New work culture

HIDDEN AGENDA - The Philippine Star

Technology has indeed changed the way people work.

When I was covering the Malacañang beat, the press room did not have computers or even fax machines. All we had were limited number of typewriters. So we were forced to dictate our handwritten stories to the desk person over a landline phone and we had to take turns using the phone because there were only a few.

A few years later, when I was assigned to cover the trade and industry beat, we were stationed at the DTI office in Buendia and had to report to the office at the Port Area everyday to type and file our stories.

With the advent of the fax machine, and then the e-mail and the personal computer or even the laptops, reporters were no longer required to report to their office. They can file their stories from anywhere so long as they submit before the deadline.

Now, even without a laptop, reporters can meet their daily required output by using their mobile phones which have capabilities for word processing.

Across industries, more and more are joining the mobile workforce. Because workers no longer have to brave the traffic to report for work, they have become more productive and efficient.

But of course, this new culture and way of working has its challenges.

A recent study conducted by Microsoft revealed that the changing face of the workforce in the Philippines has resulted in a need for organizations to foster a new culture of work to achieve digital transformation success.

A number of factors influence the culture of work in the Philippines today, the study disclosed. First, the rise of mobility and proliferation of mobile and cloud technologies have resulted in individuals working across multiple locations and devices, with only 21 percent of respondents spending all of their work hours in the office, and 81 percent of respondents are working off personal smartphones. But the latter raises new security challenges for organizations.

Second, the study found that 29 percent of workers in the Philippines are already working in more than 10 teams at any one point in time. With the BPO industry being significant in the country, more workers are working with different and even virtual teams from different locations. This makes the availability of real-time insights and collaboration tools crucial to get work done.

Third, gaps in employees’ digital skills have been noted even as leaders are in the motion of embracing digital transformation: As the bar is raised with new technologies adopted across industries, deployment is uneven. In fact, 47 percent of respondents feel that more can be done to bridge the digital skills gap among workers, the study said.

According to Microsoft Philippines COO and CMO Cian O’Neill, the rise of digital technologies, along with a new generation of millennials entering the workforce, has brought about a need to address changing workers’ expectations, knowledge and skills, as well as the tools they use.

He said that with more than half of the world’s millennials residing in Asia, the workplace will need to transform to adapt to the technology habits of these digital natives. In addition, due to deployment of advanced and emerging technologies, organizations need to relook at reskilling its workforce to develop creative and strategic skills for the future, he added.

To unlock the potential of employees, the study noted that organizations need to address and elevate their workforce, especially first-line workers, through addressing the core values of the new culture of work.

First is the need to unlock employees’ creativity. The study noted that collaboration fuels innovation through sharing of ideas and enables flexibility in how people work through a connected experience, while working seamlessly across devices. However, most respondents feel restricted in the way they work today, with 64 percent highlighting that they needed to be physically present in office as equipment or tools used for their line of work is only available in the workplace.

Second is fuelling teamwork. One in two workers highlighted that access to technology for collaboration such that they can respond in a timely manner to internal and external requests was important in their line of work, the study revealed.

This is the importance of strengthening security. Many admitted to checking personal emails on company-issued devices, and are doing so for convenience sake. Therefore, leaders need to strengthen their security not to put organization’s confidential data at risk to address the need for workers to work without barriers and without impeding productivity, it said.

Fourth is bringing simplicity. The study stressed that with the rise of apps, devices, services and security risks in the workplace, there is a need to streamline the IT management, break down service siloes so that disparate data can be combined and reasoned in new ways and reduce complexity.

Technology is key for firstline workers to become an integral part of digital transformation success, according to the study.

Microsoft Asia Workplace 2020 Study, conducted between February and March 2017 covered 14 markets including Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. It included 312 respondents from the Philippines. Meanwhile, the Microsoft Asia Pacific surveyed 1,200 IT leaders across 12 markets, including Australia, China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Around 41 percent of respondents are working in organizations with 250 to 499 PCs while 59 percent work in organizations with 500 and more PCs.

For comments, e-mail at [email protected].

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