3 October 2017

Adapting workforce culture to the new normal

Source: Microsoft. Digital transformation requires change both externally and internally.
Source: Microsoft. Digital transformation requires change both externally and internally.

The changing face of Singapore’s workforce has resulted in a need for organisations to foster a new culture of work to achieve digital transformation success, a Microsoft study* has concluded. In fact, 77% polled felt that more can be done by their organisations to invest in culture development.

The Microsoft Asia Workplace 2020 Study found the following factors influencing the culture of work in Singapore today:

Increasingly mobile workforce and exposure to new security risks

The rise of mobility and proliferation of mobile and cloud technologies have resulted in individuals working across multiple locations and devices. In fact, the study found that only 38% of respondents are spending all of their work hours in the office, and 84% of respondents are working off personal smartphones. The latter raises new security challenges for organisations.

The rise of diverse teams

The research also found that 26% of workers in Singapore are already working in more than 10 teams at any one point in time. This makes the availability of real-time insights and collaboration tools crucial to get work done.

Gaps in employees’ digital skills even as leaders are in the process of embracing digital transformation

As the bar is raised with new technologies adopted across industries, deployment is uneven. In fact, 74% of respondents feel that more can be done to bridge the digital skills gap among workers.

Said Borko Kovacevic, Director, Productivity Solutions, Microsoft Singapore: “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. And 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, organisations need to relook at reskilling its workforce to develop creative and strategic skills for the future.”

Even as 75% of business leaders in Singapore acknowledge the need to transform into a digital business in order to succeed**, successful digital transformation will ultimately depend on people and the tools they are provided with.

“People are at the heart of digital transformation. Their expectations, knowledge and skills, as well as the tools they use for work, are determining factors in the level of transformation that any organisation can achieve. The challenge that they face now is how to implement new ways to foster a modern culture of work to better empower Asia’s workers, especially those at the frontline. By estimates, there are 2 billion firstline workers globally, and make up majority of our workforce today,” said Kovacevic.

Firstline workers serve as the initial point of contact between companies and the rest of the world - they are first to engage customers, represent brand, and see products and services in action, Microsoft said. The company suggests unlocking the potential of employees, organisations need to address and elevate their workforce, especially firstline workers, through addressing the core values of the new culture of work: 

Unlocking employees’ creativity

Collaboration fuels innovation through sharing of ideas and enables flexibility in how people work through a connected experience, while working seamlessly across devices. However, the Microsoft Asia Workplace 2020 Study found that majority of respondents feel restricted in the way they work today, with 58% 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.
Fuelling teamwork

By giving all workers a universal toolkit for collaboration, organisations offer its people choice and ownership as to how they work together and collaborate in real-time. In fact, the Microsoft Asia Workplace 2020 Study found that two in five 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. 

Strengthening security

Today, 61% of respondents are working on employer-issued PCs, but 84% are also working on personal smartphones or using corporate devices for personal activities, which underscores potential security risks. In fact, 66% of respondents admitted to checking personal emails on company-issued devices, and are doing so for the convenience. Therefore, leaders need to strengthen their security not to put organisation’s confidential data at risk to address the need for workers to work without barriers and without impeding productivity. 

Making it simpler

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. In fact, a Microsoft Asia Pacific IT leaders study*** found that 72% of IT decision makers (ITDMs) in Singapore agreed that there is a need to reduce complexity of managing their existing IT security portfolio.

“We believe that every worker – from the factory floor to the front desk, to the executive boardroom – can contribute to an organisation’s collective endeavours. It is our view that involving firstline workers in digital transformation will drive unprecedented opportunity – for workers, the organisations that they work for, and the industries and society at large,” added Kovacevic. “At Microsoft, we see the opportunities that can be unlocked with technology by equipping frontline workers with the right tools, such as Microsoft 365. Ultimately, digital transformation projects can only succeed if the right tools are in place for workers to leverage and maximise upon.”

Microsoft has been diversifying the Microsoft 365 family to address workforce challenges with Microsoft 365 F1, a version of Microsoft 365 which provides purpose-built capabilities that help foster firstline culture and community, train and upskill employees, digitise business process, deliver real-time expertise, and minimise risk and cost. New intelligent search capabilities, a vision for intelligent communications centring on Microsoft Teams, and security and IT management enhancements to help customers stay secure and compliant were also introduced at Ignite:

- Microsoft 365 F1 brings together Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security to empower the more than two billion firstline workers worldwide, who serve as the first point of contact between a company and its customers, or who are directly involved in making products.
- A new vision for intelligent communications, including plans to bring Skype for Business Online capabilities into Microsoft Teams, along with cognitive and data services. This makes Teams the true hub for teamwork in Office 365, including persistent chat, voice and video.
- Intelligent search experiences use AI and machine learning to deliver more relevant search results across Microsoft 365.

- Microsoft 365 is delivering improved advanced threat protection (ATP) features like enhanced anti-phishing capabilities, expanded protection to SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, and Microsoft Teams and integration between cloud and on premises identity threat detection capabilities.

- For organisations still on Office 2007, end of support will happen on 11 October. Customers who are still using Office 2007 products and services are encouraged to move to Office 365 or Microsoft 365 to stay supported, and ensure uninterrupted support from Microsoft.

Kovacevic said: “With cloud-based productivity tools being a key pick among Asia’s mobile workers to drive greater collaboration among teams, we urge organisations to take the opportunity to evaluate Microsoft 365 as an option to modernise their workforce.”

Source: Microsoft. Infographic illustrating findings of the Microsoft Asia Workplace 2020 Study,
Source: Microsoft. Infographic illustrating findings of the Microsoft Asia Workplace 2020 Study,


Read the TechTrade Asia blog post about the Ignite announcements

*Microsoft Asia Workplace 2020 Study, conducted between February and March 2017 involving 4.175 respondents in 14 Asia markets. The 14 markets include Australia, mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. All respondents were prequalified as at least spending 30 hours per week in a full-time role, or spending at least 20 hours per week in a part time role. This included 307 respondents from Singapore.

**Microsoft Asia Digital Transformation Study. The study surveyed 1,494 business leaders from Asia, including 118 from Singapore. All respondents were prequalified as being involved in shaping their organisations’ digital strategy. The study found that only 34% of business leaders in Singapore have a full digital transformation strategy while half are in progress with specific digital transformation initiatives for selected parts of their business. Another 16% of respondents said they had a very limited or no strategy in place.

***Microsoft Asia Pacific survey of 1,200 IT leaders across 12 markets, including Australia, mainland China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Four in 10 (41%) of respondents are working in organisations with 250 to 499 PCs; 59% work in organisations with 500 and more PCs.