China, Hong Kong, and Japan face differing priorities as they adapt to the workplace of the future.
By Marta Chmielowicz
Asia’s economy is growing, but this growth is not uniform across every region. Hays Singapore’s Uncovering the DNA of the Future Workforce in Asia study reveals that whilst a greater focus on technology, well-being, and flexibility has ushered in a new era of work, there are distinct differences in the recovery of each region.
As a world leader of technology and innovation, China overcame the challenges of COVID-19 and returned to work in record time. However, this success isn’t necessarily an accurate forecast of the future: Only 39% of survey respondents in China describe their organisation as future-ready, and 45% are unsure. After openness to change (76%) and digitalisation of processes (70%), respondents believe learning and development opportunities (68%) are key to increasing future readiness.
Following the pandemic, the majority of employees say that job stability and security have become important to them (81%), followed by flexible work options (76%), and D&I (64%). The rising importance of D&I in particular is unique to China, with employees suggesting that a more inclusive workplace culture (72%) and a more diverse leadership team (66%) are keys to success. However, when asked if their organisations have implemented these strategies, only 39% and 34% of respondents agreed respectively.
Ongoing instability in Hong Kong has resulted in accelerated remote work capabilities and a greater focus on employee well-being, even before the pandemic. However, prolonged uncertainty exists among the workforce; only 35% of employees believe their organisation is future-ready—the second lowest of any country in APAC.
An overwhelming 87% of respondents said that remote working options became their top priority following the pandemic, followed by flexible hours (78%) and employee well-being programmes (67%). As a result, the majority of employers are now considering making remote work in Hong Kong a permanent fixture, with 69% of employers currently providing remote work options, compared to 40% pre-COVID.
Additionally, 57% of employers are offering flexible hours—the highest number in Asia after China (60%)—in response to employee demands for four-day work weeks (55%), which have recently gained popularity in the region as a way to compensate workers for pay cuts.
Traditionally defined by structured work hours in the office, Japan’s workplaces were forced to undergo revolutionary change when transitioning to digital and remote work during the pandemic. This change was necessary, as only 26% of respondents describe their organisation as future-ready—the lowest such score in Asia. When asked what would improve the future-readiness of their organisations, respondents cited digitalisation of processes (67%), openness to change (63%), and remote and flexible working options (59%).
Further, 44% of employees are actively looking for new opportunities while 33% are passively looking for new opportunities. To attract top talent, organisations will need to prioritise flexible working options (76%), job stability and security (60%), and company values and culture (44%).
However, whilst many respondents value remote work, a large majority also believe the option to work at a physical office is important (71%)—a finding that is unique to Japan. This indicates that hybrid work models may be the best way forward as organisations transition to more digital ways of working.