Microsoft study shows that SMBs in Asia Pacific fall behind employee expectations in a New World of Work

Microsoft Asia Pacific New World of Index shows that 40 out of 100 respondents rated themselves highly in embracing new People, Place and Technology principles

Asia Pacific, Singapore – 9 June 2015 – Microsoft today unveiled an Asia Pacific wide study that shows small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are lagging behind their employees’ expectations to be more productive, collaborative and innovative in a mobile-first, cloud-first world. While 74% of employees considering themselves to be mobile workers, only 31% work for SMBs that have formal work policies to support remote working. The Study also unveils the first-ever New World of Work Index comparing how workers perceive their ability to succeed in today’s digital, fast paced and modern workplace.

Microsoft’s New World of Work SMB Study involved 2,000 respondents from 10 countries1 in Asia Pacific and generated insights on their current work and life needs and the gaps that exist in enabling them to thrive. The New World of Work Index is derived from respondents who rated themselves highly in the three key principles of people, place and technology and provides a comparison between markets. The Asia Pacific mean score was 40 out of 100, while scores ranged from as low as 21 in Taiwan to as high as 62 in Indonesia.

The New World of Work covers three key principles:

  1. People: Employees in the New World of Work have the capabilities to work flexibly and productively in the digital modern work place. They are supported by leaders and cultures that help them succeed in this dynamic environment.
  2. Place: Employees can work flexibly, anywhere at any time. Their offices support a collaborative, dynamic workplace design and their policies support flexible work at work, home or with customers.
  3. Technology: Employees are empowered with technology to enable them to succeed in this environment, allowing collaborative work wherever they may go.

Microsoft worked with Organisation Solutions, a global consultancy helping companies solve the people and organization challenges of growth, to design the study and gain insights from the data.

Dr James Eyring, COO of Organisation Solutions said: “Over the past decade, the nature of work has evolved and now requires more remote collaboration. Progressive companies have changed their workplace, policies and capabilities to better succeed in this environment. By enabling employees to work anywhere, at any time, these companies improve employee collaboration, innovation, productivity and well-being. In turn, they better serve customers and grow their business. These companies also provide more flexibility to current workers and better attract young talent who are used to having a connected and mobile environment. Microsoft’s New World of Work survey provides valuable insights into the people, place and technology practices that enable business success and attract and retain talent. Asia has some unique opportunities to do this better, especially with emerging markets.”

The findings clearly show that the traditional notion of work is changing, even within SMBs:

  1. The responsive organisation: 71% of respondents said that they are required to respond to internal stakeholders within 4 hours; and 67% said that they are required to respond to external customers within 4 hours;
  2. Work doesn’t end at 5.00pm: Resounding majority of respondents (79%) said that they are still required to be contactable outside of work today in order to complete their work effectively;
  3. Limited mobile productivity in a highly mobile workforce: The top 2 reasons why they need to be present in the office was to have access to important equipment or tools (60%) or important information (41.5%). Only 25% feel they are productive outside the office (home, customer site, public venues).
  4. Bring-your-own-device and Bring-your-own-service culture is increasingly pervasive: Employees are using as many personal devices (52%) compared with employer-issued devices (48%) to get work done today. 52% are also using online tools (mostly free) that go beyond just email – document & file sharing, storage, virtual meetings, social.
  5. Achieving work life balance is challenging: 79% of respondents said that work life balance is a very important aspect of their job, but only half of respondents (50%) felt that they had adequate balance today.
  6. SMBs are making progress to have sustainable practices with 73% of respondents saying their organizations are increasingly becoming paperless.

Said Stanimira Koleva, General Manager, Small & Midmarket Solutions and Partners Group, Microsoft Asia Pacific, “Globalization and technology innovations have brought the world closer and has fundamentally changed the way people live and work. SMBs make up over 90% of business in Asia and contribute significantly to economic growth. We commissioned this study to understand how work and life has changed for employees in Asia Pacific and to determine how well supported they are in enabling them to succeed. While technology plays a key role to enable work from anywhere scenarios and higher productivity, there are other aspects such as organizational culture, policies, infrastructure, enabling collaboration or ability to break down barriers to innovation which are becoming increasingly important for an organization to be competitive.”

Employees in emerging markets to leapfrog mature markets in the modern workplace
The New World of Work (NWoW) Index is derived from respondents who rated themselves highly in the three key principles of people, place and technology. The score shows the number of employees over 100 who feel their employers are enabling them to be productive, collaborative and innovative while ensuring personal well-being.


To support the index, the study presented these key observations:

  • Employees in emerging markets feel they are better supported for a new world of work, are open to harness productivity tools to work better and smarter. They also clearly bring their own devices and services to the workplace to help them become more connected and productive. This was further reinforced by the insight that majority of respondents in these markets are using 4 or 5 productivity services today.
  • Employees in mature markets live in a world where advanced productivity tools are more readily available, but they do not harness online productivity tools as much as their counterparts in emerging markets. They may also be impeded by stricter policies or legacy processes & systems at the workplace.
  • 52% of respondents in Asia Pacific use at least 4 to 5 online services to enable their work needs (email, social, collaboration, virtual meetings, and cloud-based file sharing services). In the new digital world, employees in emerging markets will leapfrog those in mature markets in becoming workers of the future.
  • When ranked, the top 5 online services being used by employees in SMBs for work are:
    • Email (89%)
    • Social tools (66%)
    • File sharing services (62%)
    • Document collaboration tools (61%)
    • Virtual meeting tools (56%)

Unlocking the New World of Work in Asia Pacific
When companies, especially SMBs, adopt the New World of Work principles, they are able to gain new business insights, realize greater operational efficiency, communicate and collaborate real time – all while reducing the impact on the environment. In fact, the New World of Work presents four clear benefits for SMBs today: a more productive workforce, a more collaborative workforce, a more innovative workforce and a happier workplace.

The top three benefits cited by employees are:

  1. To be able to work productively from anywhere (52.7%)
  2. To share ideas, documents and information with colleagues instantly (51.9%)
  3. To be more responsive to customers (47.05%)

Nearly half (48%) of respondents still do not have access to the breadth of tools in their workplace to be collaborative, break down barriers between organizations and distances as well as to share ideas easily. With productivity and talent retention being a key concern form SMBs in Asia Pacific, companies can no longer afford to ignore the needs of their employees to provide enhanced productivity as well as better work life integration in the New World of Work.

Technology is changing the shape of business today and plays a big role to enable SMBs to bridge the gap to the New World of Work – collaboration, productivity, innovation, well-being. Here are four key steps for SMBs to take:

  1. Communicate, collaborate, have meetings, share ideas real time from anywhere – with enterprise grade cloud solutions which enable email, social, document sharing, virtual meetings, file sharing.
  2. Work from any device – with more than 52% of employees bringing their own devices to work – smartphones, tablets, laptops – why not harness their potential to share ideas, provide real time insight on how the business is going – something which millennials do naturally anywhere.
  3. Enable secure remote working – Peace of mind with security for remote access & online solutions – enterprise grade solutions with easy device management on Windows Intune, data privacy and security policies which protect companies and their employees on Office 365.
  4. Democratize access to technology: Productivity tools need to be pervasively available across the workforce. In the study, respondents who hold managerial positions feel they are more responsive to stakeholders (44%) versus non-managerial positions (32%).

“The goal to enhanced productivity is crucial to SMBs as they don’t enjoy the luxury of scale. SMBs are likely not able to dedicate resources for every challenge, or have a specialist to fill every role. In fact, people in SMBs – whether an employee or entrepreneur – tend to wear multiple hats. Because of this, enhancing productivity – or being able to work on the right things at the right time – is critical to the success of SMBs today,” Koleva added.

Productivity reinvented through Microsoft cloud for the modern workplace
Cloud services enable organizations to drive work place transformation and can help address business needs from the largest enterprise to the smallest business. According to the Boston Consulting Group, businesses that use cloud and mobile technologies far outperformed their peers in the marketplace. They create jobs almost two times as fast as other small businesses, and they increase annual revenues 15 percentage points faster than companies with lower levels of technology adoption.

Microsoft solutions for business enable SMBs to be able to work collaboratively anywhere, with the same familiar experience across PCs, tablets, and mobile devices. With Office 365, SMBs can benefit from a breadth of tools for the modern workplace which is constantly updated and scalable with latest productivity features for employees to get things done:

  • Modern mobility: With familiar Office apps now available on iOS and Android as well as Windows, users can get work done anywhere and anytime.
  • Modern collaboration: Enterprises can get access to enterprise-grade online tools enables you to share all documents and co-author in real-time. Office Delve, now available to all Office 365 for business users, proactively highlights key information that is relevant to users based on tasks and colleagues that users work with closely.
  • Modern meetings: Skype for Business, a communications and collaboration platform brings together an experience inspired by Skype with enterprise-grade security, compliance and control. It offers features including presence, IM, voice and video calls, and online meetings. It is a built right into Office, so initiating chats, calls and meetings is an integrated experience.
  • Security and controls: Microsoft’s commitment in building a trusted cloud ensures that your company data is protected.

In Asia Pacific, a good example of how SMBs can accelerate their growth through technology is Amicus, an Australian interior design firm which looked to operate an activity based working environment where its 55 staff across three locations are encouraged to be autonomous and empowered to choose where and when they work to be at their most productive. Amicus deployed Office 365 to turn their vision into a reality as the company realised that such a culture would not flourish if it was not enabled through the right technology. With the ability to securely access crucial work files from any location at any time, and armed with collaboration tools such as Lync and Yammer, Amicus employees can now efficiently collaborate with colleagues and complete work tasks on their own terms, unhindered by device choice, location or time. As a result, the firm’s staff are better able to balance their personal and work commitments leading to happier employees overall.

“Microsoft is reinventing productivity to empower every person and every organisation to do more and achieve more. Millions of SMBs across Asia Pacific are already reaping the benefits of a more productive and collaborative work place with cloud and mobile optimized solutions such as Office 365 which includes Yammer for social and Skype for Business for virtual meetings, with all the security built in to allay concerns of moving to the cloud. We are clear that our goal is not to make more technology, but rather to make technology that does more for you and your business,” said Koleva.

Click on the image to view the full infographic.
Click on the image to view the full infographic.

(1) The Microsoft Asia Pacific New World of Work SMB Study was conducted in March 2015 with 2,000 respondents working in small and medium enterprises with less than 250 employees in 10 Asia Pacific markets including Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.


About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services, devices and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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