SEA's ‘GenMobile’ less attached to devices, more attracted to flexi-work
By Digital News Asia April 16, 2014
- Prefer to have mobility over other perks or benefits, survey finds
- Moving on from BYOD to CYOD: Choose Your Own Device
A SURVEY of the new breed of employees dubbed #GenMobile found that the majority have a tendency of working non-traditional work-hours and in flexible workplaces, and own three or more connected devices (59%).
A third is always online (34%) whether they are working or not, said Aruba Networks, which has released the Are you ready for #GenMobile? report that it said goes well beyond BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and explores a new breed of employee that is changing the workplace.
#GenMobile are so attached to their mobile devices that 87% of them will directly check information from digital channels via their connected devices compared with obtaining information via traditional channels like on TV or newspaper, the company said in a statement.
The report, which surveyed over 5,500 respondents in the region, reveals characteristics of the newly dubbed #GenMobile, a group of employees defined by their preference for mobility both in terms of the significance of mobility, and their approach to work.
There is also indicative data showing businesses’ attitude towards the emergence of this new phenomenon, which is becoming the next step for businesses to adopt to take full advantage of their employees’ potential productivity and sharpen their competitive edge, Aruba Networks said.
While #GenMobile is not an age group, for the purposes of this report it was been defined via a cross-section of the survey base that showed the highest preference for mobility at home and at work. Typically these respondents were aged between 18 and 35 years old,
The research conducted in China, Hong Kong, Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand, the Sunnyvale, California-based company said.
Japan (49.5%), China (42%) and Hong Kong (39%) respondents are among the most attached users to connected devices as more than one-third of the respondents claimed to be always online, followed by Singapore (35%), Taiwan (31%) and Korea (29%), which are in sync with the high network penetration in these economies.
Less than one-fifth of respondents in South-East Asian countries expressed similar responses, implying that they are less attached to their devices (16% in Indonesia, 16% in Malaysia and 15% in Thailand).
The increasing demand for flexible work modes is clearly indicated in South East Asia, where more than 70% of the respondents declared that they would opt for flexible work modes than to have a rigid workplace even with cash allowance (78% in Indonesia, 76% in Malaysia, 75% in Singapore, 82% in Thailand, 75% in China and 72% in Japan).
The report reveals that, rather than acting as an aide to the workday, #GenMobile are shaping their working lives around their connected devices and centring their work mode on mobility, Aruba Networks said.
With the ability to work effectively anytime, at any place and on any device, they expect employers to implement the necessary policies and structural changes to accommodate to their preferred mode of working.
According to the report, 94% of respondents expect to have higher demand for WiFi usage in the coming 12 months so as to cope with the increasing demand among employees.
- WiFi matters: Nearly 68% would prefer WiFi at the expense of other connections (4G, 3G or wired), while more than half (58%) would spend at least four hours or more with their connected devices.
- The digital-savvy generation is here: Digital means are becoming the primary source of information for the members of #GenMobile. Close to 60% (59%) would first check email/ news/ weather with mobile devices in the morning, followed by 28% who would also check social media networks, while only 13% would read newspaper or watch news on TV.
- Always online: 34% are always online, while 68% would check their smartphone more than once in an hour.
- Money alone cannot buy their love: More than two-thirds (69%) would prefer to have more flexibility – for example, working from home two to three days per week – than to receive 5% cash allowance at a rigid workplace.
- From BYOD to CYOD (Choose Your Own Device): Availability of devices is also becoming more appealing to today’s workforce compared to free lunches. 74% would opt for getting a smartphone of their choice from employers than getting free lunches.
- Evolving business models: Enterprises are become more aware of how WiFi enhances communications (42%), meets the needs of the next-generation employees (41%); and improves user experience (34%), although improving efficiency still dominates (71%).
Money can’t buy you love
#GenMobile workers want to stay connected to everything all the time, no matter where they are – and they are the most productive members of the workforce, Aruba Networks said.
The typical #GenMobile abides by the ‘anywhere, anytime’ principle of flexible working, where office location and working hours are no longer constrained to the traditional work schedule.
Aruba Networks said it believes that understanding and catering to #GenMobile’s needs can be the key to a productive workplace.
Traditionally, when deploying a technology like WiFi, businesses are looking to improve efficiency (71%) and save cost (44%).
However, businesses nowadays are starting to realise the need to optimise business value brought by enhanced WiFi network and mobility, including meeting needs of the new generation of workforce (41%), improving user experience (34%) and improving communications (42%).
“We’ve seen flexible working modes and BYOD gaining popularity across demographics for some time, but this report shows that they’ve now become a way of life for those in the modern workforce,” said Albert Tay, Asean general manager at Aruba Networks.
“To take full advantage of the potential and productivity of this new generation of workforce who may opt for enhanced mobility with connected devices rather than a rigid workplace or even a higher salary, businesses need to start looking for solutions to ensure levels of empowerment and productivity for employees that grew up in this new era,” he added.
Among the businesses that were interviewed, 94% are becoming aware of the transformation and the critical role mobility plays in preparing for #GenMobile’s entrance to the workforce.
At present, almost two-thirds (62%) of businesses provide laptops or desktops to employees at work, and fewer than 20% provide connected devices such as tablets (19%) or smartphones (18%).
On the BYOD front, more than one-third (38%) of the #GenMobile workforce use their own devices for business applications, and only 55% of their employers set security policy to manage devices brought into the workplace, representing a security gap that businesses should not overlook when making decisions on WiFi provision.
“We are optimistic that businesses will invest more to support WiFi users as well as to improve user experience and efficiency, but ensuring that productivity and convenience are supplemented with solid technology choices that balance demand, experience and security is critical to building a sustainable business,” said Tay.
“New connected devices are launched in the market every day and they are quietly changing the way people work, communicate and manage their lives – the motivation to this new generation of workers is therefore more than mobility alone.
“To facilitate this shift, businesses aiming to get ahead of the crowd need to think ahead about how to motivate, and more importantly, how to ensure security without compromising on their employees’ experience at the workplace,” he added.
More than half (68%) prefer to connect to the Internet on their devices via WiFi, particularly in Japan (79%), China (77%) and Thailand (76%).
Also, 77% of the respondents observed at least 25% increase in WiFi usage in their organisation, while more than 62% believed 40% more of time was used to provide support for WiFi users in the past 12 months.
The majority of the respondents (90%) expect that there will be increasing resources support to meet the expectations of WiFi users within the year, again with the exception of Korea which has only recorded slightly more than one-third (38%) of respondents expecting to do so.
The importance of using connected devices for personal communication use is more obvious in a few South East Asian countries, that three-quarters of respondents use their own devices for personal communications in at least half of the occasions (87% in Indonesia, 87% in Malaysia and 75% in Singapore), illustrating how connected devices and products have now become norm for people to connect with each other, ousting in-person communications.
The blending of work and personal device usage is best demonstrated in Indonesia (63%), Malaysia (61%) and Thailand (86%) with more than 60% of their respondents use their own devices for business applications in more than half of the occasions, serving as an indicative reference for businesses to look into when considering solutions to meeting needs of employees in Asia, particularly in South East Asia.
In North Asia, including Korea (25%) and Japan (15%), people tend to have separate devices for personal and business purposes, implying a less obvious blending of devices.
Apart from dominant factors like cost and efficiency, businesses in Japan are more aware of the benefits brought by WiFi in terms of improving user experience (54%), Malaysia is more concerned about enhancing communications (64%) and Singapore’s focus is on meeting needs of the next-generation employees (54%), implying different priorities and approaches among enterprises across these countries in sharping their WiFi user experience.
Businesses in China and Japan (82%) have higher security awareness. More than half (55%) of businesses have set security policy for connected devices in the workplace.
Meanwhile, only two-fifths of businesses in Singapore (40%) and Taiwan (45%) have done so. Employees in Asia Pacific in general tend to follow security policy, especially in China (86%), Japan (81%) and Taiwan (77%), though Singapore (44%) and Thailand (51%) employees tend to exercise more freedom in that regard.
To download a PDF of an Aruba presentation on the report, click here.
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