A report based on the study Decoding Global Ways of Working states that only 7 per cent of Asia’s workforce now want to commit to a completely onsite work arrangement. A majority of them have expressed a desire for flexibility in where their work gets done. A total of 66,624 respondents in Asia — out of 209,000 participants across 190 countries — took part in the study.
Most of the Asian respondents prefer to work two to three days remotely every week, with two exceptions. Forty-nine per cent of the respondents in the Philippines prefer to work all five days completely remote. Reasons could be related to the increasing rate of COVID-19 infection, worsening traffic situation pre-COVID lockdown and the inadequate public transportation system.
On the other hand, only 9 per cent of the respondents in Hong Kong are keen on a completely remote arrangement — this is likely due to their housing situation, where their houses are not ideal for a home office.
The study is conducted in partnership with SEEK Asia (The parent company of JobStreet), Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Network. It is the second release in a series of publications focusing on the pandemic’s impact on worker preferences and expectations.
The data gathered for Decoding Global Ways of Working provides insights into worker preferences by gender, age, education level, level of digital skill, and position in the job hierarchy.
Financial compensation now a key near-term benefit when it comes to job preferences
Apart from work location and work practices, the survey also identified some shifts in what people value at work. Good relationships with their colleagues, followed by financial compensation in the form of salaries and bonuses, are what Asian employees consider when it comes to staying in their current jobs.
In 2020, good relationships with their superiors became the third most important near-term benefit. Employer’s financial stability, career development, learning and skills training, while still important considerations, now rank lower when it comes to weightage.
New worker attitudes on diversity and the environment
Racial and environmental issues have gained international spotlight in 2020. A majority of Asian workers now expect their employers to champion environmental responsibility as well as diversity and inclusion.
Seventy-nine per cent of respondents indicated that the issue of employers’ environmental responsibility has become more important to them. This sentiment is especially strong amongst workers in Indonesia (85%), the Philippines (83%) and Malaysia (80%). Roughly seven in ten respondents now value diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Social issues resonate strongly with workers in Thailand (91%), the Philippines (85%) and Malaysia (83%).
Close to 60 per cent of respondents said that they would exclude companies that do not match their beliefs in environmental responsibility when searching for a job — Malaysia (65%), Indonesia (64%) and the Philippines (59%). For diversity and inclusion, the number is 57 per cent — Hong Kong (67%), Malaysia (66%) and Thailand (63%).
Increased reliance for digital tools
The impact of the pandemic goes well beyond the dimension of where work gets done, social issues attitudes and the monetary benefits. The way how people collaborate, the tools they use and their well-being have also been affected.
One positive change is people’s increased reliance and facility with using digital tools for their job roles. This improved use of digital tools during the pandemic was widely noted by the countries such as Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia.
Well-being of workers, however, is on severe decline. Employees from Hong Kong and Indonesia experienced a negative change in their well-being, especially those in physical or social jobs, where they had to continue working in person.
“COVID-19 has changed the world, down to the micro level. Workers around the world have begun re-evaluating their work priorities,” says Peter Bithos, Chief Executive Officer, SEEK Asia. “Accordingly, employers must too change their work policies in order to remain attractive to top talents.
“In today’s digital world, they must be technology champions, ensuring convenient access to collaboration tools and the deployment of robust infrastructure in both the office and at home.
“Secondly, they must make employee well-being, work-life balance, mentorship and career development a key part of their companies’ core.
“Finally, they need to be a role model to their employees, with their corporate social responsibility efforts focusing on tackling important social and/or environmental issues.”