APJ employees geared for long-term remote working: Dell
By Tan Jee Yee March 9, 2021
- 81% of respondents feel they are prepared for long-term remote working
- Challenges include lack of employer engagement, network stability, digital tools
I TYPE this, currently, in the valley of clutter and unread books that is my home office. It’s strange to call it a 'home office' – it was, at least more than a year ago, more of a 'study,' where no actual studying took place.
Instead, it’s where 90% of my work gets done, while the remaining 10% happens at the dining table, a haven where I would like to call a café.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made this scenario normal. But can this work in a large workforce? How prepared are employees in embracing remote working as the new normal?
According to Dell Technologies’ inaugural Remote Work Readiness (RWR) Index, more than eight in 10 (81%) employees in the Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) region feel they are prepared for long-term remote work, though they face ongoing productivity challenges.
The study surveyed over 7,000 working professionals aged 18 years and above from the Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) region on their readiness for long-term remote work and views on the factors important for remote work success. It was conducted in Oct 2020 and covered seven countries: Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia.
Dell’s study also unveiled some interesting facets to remote working in the region. For one, it turns out that remote work as a concept isn’t exactly foreign to the over 7,000 APJ employees surveyed. As many as 71% had worked remotely to some degree before lockdowns were implemented. In fact, 84% of Gen Z employees (aged 18- to 23-years-old) in APJ had worked remotely before Covid-19 lockdowns.
But what are the major challenges? The study reveals that job security from the lack of interaction with employers (28% of APJ workers) and the stability of remote networks (27% of APJ workers), which includes Internet bandwidth, are the most significant concerns for employees should work arrangements continue long-term.
Surveyed employees – 34% of them in APJ – also feel that the blurring boundaries between work and personal lives is a cause for concern in a long-term remote work arrangement.
Employers seem pretty split when it comes to remote work. Less than half of employees surveyed (46% across APJ) feel that employers are fully supportive of long-term remote work. When it comes to technology resources, half of them (50%) feel that employers are not doing everything they can to support effective remote working.
Additionally, only 40% in the region feel that employers are doing everything they can to provide them with the human resource (HR) support needed to successfully work remotely.
“The extraordinary events happening around the world means that organisations have had to pivot to a remote work arrangement almost instantaneously, so it is not surprising that there are genuine concerns about long-term remote work,” says KT Ong, country manager for Dell Technologies Malaysia.
“The good news is that employees are prepared to work remotely for the long term and [there is] hope that their employers will provide greater support for the new reality where remote work practices will be commonplace.”
Understanding the plight
According to Dell, employers now face the challenge to understand the plights of their work from home (WFH) employees and the need to provide the necessary resources to ensure successful long-term remote work.
The top technology challenges that APJ employees face, notes Dell, is stability of remote network, including Internet bandwidth (31%), access to internal company resources (29%), and use of personal productivity equipment and tools for work (28%).
As a result, 39% of APJ employees stated that they want employers to provide productivity equipment and tools, while 36% want the ability to access internal company resources.
In terms of HR support, 41% of respondents cite the top challenge as: the lack of in-person communication. Meanwhile, 39% feel that the lack of or insufficient learning and development sessions, including training for virtual tools, is a major issue, while 38% cite insufficient best practice training and outdated policies and guidelines for remote working to be a top challenge.
To successfully manage long-term remote work, more than half of the employees surveyed want best practices training for remote working, and learning and development sessions. Some 40% want access to digital tools for performance review and leave filing, while 46% cite team engagement initiatives as a top HR resources and employee support need.
“The definition of work today has evolved. It is no longer anchored to a place or time, but instead is focused on outcomes,” says Ong.
“Employers with long-term health of the business in mind must be ready to help employees – the backbone of any company – realise both their professional and personal roles effectively regardless of where they will be working. This is work redefined.”
Challenges facing employers
Dell’s study didn’t cover the challenges that employers in APJ faced when it comes to remote work, but Ong (pic, above) does share some perspectives from customers that engage Dell for remote working solutions.
Most businesses face three main challenges in maintaining remote work. The first is the ability of devices, Ong explains. A lot of organisations have desktop computers for their employees, which are now rendered less practical for employees that have to work remotely, he adds.
“Providing the employees the right WFH devices is one of the main challenges,” Ong reveals. Secondly is 'access' – how can employers enable employees to safely access company data.
"More employees accessing company data remotely means more traffic to the company servers, which requires employers to obtain systems that can handle the increased load, not to mention address security concerns.
"Lastly is culture as some companies are still trying to adapt to WFH culture, especially when it comes to trust. Are their employees truly working from home? Are they taking advantage of the added flexibility? It may take a while for organisations to accept that,” he argues.
Dealing with culture
On how to overcome the cultural roadblock, Ong suggests that companies change the way the view productivity.
Noting how Dell itself has shifted their emphasis, Ong shares, “Our emphasis is that work is not about time but about business outcomes. Once a company culture is anchored in this mindset, things will become clearer. As long as you produce business results, regardless of your role, where you workdoesn’t matter as much.
Ong also says this is where our decade-long experience in flexible work arrangement becomes an opportunity to help our customers through their own digital implementation and enable them to effectively support a remote workforce, and an increasingly hybrid workplace.
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