Vietnam employees do not feel empowered for the digital age

10:40 | 30/03/2017
Employees in Vietnam do not feel empowered to embrace the demands of the digital workplace and only 40 per cent feel that their organisation is committed at a leadership level to bridge employee digital skills gaps, according to the findings of Microsoft’s Asia Workplace 2020 study unveiled on March 29.

90 per cent of Vietnam respondents consider themselves to be mobile workers and spend at least 20 per cent of their time working outside of their offices, and 70 per cent feel empowered by their organisation’s culture and managers to be able to work together productively and collaboratively. However, what was interesting was that only 40 per cent feel that their organisations are committed at a leadership level to bridge the digital skills gaps among employees in the digital age, which means more can be done to enhance collaboration within the workforce.

The study, which involved close to 4,200 working professionals from 14 markets in Asia, sought to understand shifting employee behaviours and gaps in the workplace when it came to productivity, collaboration and flexi-work practices. This included 311 respondents from Vietnam.

“As Asia primes itself to become the most connected market with more than half of all mobile connections originating from the region by 2021 , organisations need to rethink how they empower their workforce with the right culture, policy, infrastructure and tools to maximise their potential. This means enabling collaboration from anywhere, on any device. However, it is also critical for business leaders to evaluate and implement changes to counter cultural and management challenges that are hindering employees to work seamlessly from wherever they are, which will in turn, hinder an organisation’s growth and progress in the digital age,” said Vu Minh Tri, CEO of Microsoft Vietnam.

A digitally savvy workforce is key to digital transformation

An earlier version of the study conducted in 2015 found that 45 out of 100 respondents in Vietnam were ready for the New World of Work, whereby organisations had the right people, place and technology principles in place to enable a productive, collaborative and innovative workforce. This year, 70 out of 100 respondents felt so, indicating that organisations in the market are better equipped, although more can be done to move the needle.

But beyond people, place and technology factors, the rise of the 4th industrial revolution has also accelerated the pace of transformation. A recent Microsoft Asia Digital Transformation study conducted in late 2016 found that ‘empowering employees’ is the number two digital transformation priority among Asia’s business leaders. On the other hand, having a digital skilled workforce was the number one barrier in their digital transformation journey.

The digital transformation pillar, ‘empower employees’ emphasizes that organisations use technology to help employees be connected and work from anywhere, as well as collaborate and share knowledge digitally

New work styles and organisational conflicts need to be addressed

It is evident that mobile professionals in the market are embracing flexi-work today, and organisations should look at new workplace practices, especially with the impeding influx of digital natives (born after 2000) entering the workforce for the first time.

The majority of respondents (83 per cent) value work-life integration today, where the boundaries of work and life have blurred, but have enabled mobile professionals to be able to collaborate and work virtually.

The study also found that organisations need to address several structural challenges within the workplace to ready themselves for the digital age, as well as flexi-work practices:

1. Organisation’s leaders are a key enabler to drive flexi-work practices in the workplace: Only 40 per cent agree that their organisation’s leadership is committed in bridging the digital skills gap in the workplace.

2. Organisational culture is important: Only 46 per cent agree that their organisation has invested in culture development through training and development led by the human resources department (HR)

3. Access to newer, data-centric technologies to enhance collaboration and productivity: Only 37 per cent feel that their organisation has invested in analytics and data tools to help them make informed and timely decisions; only 44 per cent agree that their organisation has given them tools to simplify workflows

New world of teams requires new approaches

Workplace shifts have undeniably resulted in new ways of work, where technologies have enabled increased collaboration between individuals and teams across geographies and groups. However, the study found that there were certain gaps today that hindered collaborative and productive outcomes from teams.

The top challenges were:

1. Too many face to face meetings that are taking up productive time (38 per cent)

2. Too much time spent to on-board new members in a team (36 per cent)

3. Company-wide meetings are too impersonal in communicating organisational goals (29 per cent); as well as teams are too rigid and not open to new ways of work (29 per cent)

4. Team members are not accommodating with flexi-work schedules (23 per cent), and teams take too long to respond to internal issues (23 per cent)

However, respondents feel that strong leadership and vision from team leaders (56 per cent), and access to technology tools for collaboration so that employees could work from anywhere and respond in a timely manner (50 per cent) can help build more collaborative teams.

Access to newer, collaborative technologies will enhance productivity

The study also found that respondents are seeking better devices to help them become more productive at work. Beyond hardware requirements, 39 per cent hope to have the ability to access information and data on their mobile devices and 30 per cent desire enterprise social networks for better collaboration across teams.

When asked about emerging technologies that will help build better work environments by 2020:

- 54 per cent think Artificial Intelligence will be able to help perform tasks independently

- 48 per cent would like enterprise social networks with video and voice capabilities

- 39 per cent look forward to real-time intelligence that will help them make informed decisions at work

“As the nature of work changes, how employees collaborate and work together will be impacted as well. It is critical for business and HR leaders to seek ways to better empower individuals and remove barriers to collaborate for the digital age, especially when the study clearly identifies gaps that can be minimised with technology. However, it is also important for businesses to also bridge the leadership and employee gap with more focus on people and culture,” Tri said.

Office 365 brings together people, conversations and content, along with the tools that teams need. Serving 85 million commercial users worldwide every month, Microsoft Office 365 is built on four core promises:

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  + Enterprise Data Protection will be available for the Office Mobile apps for Windows 10 later this year and for the desktop apps early next year, enabling secured content sharing within corporate boundaries.

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