Australian workers share their feels on the digital age

Published on the 19/04/2017 | Written by Newsdesk

Digital workplace

Nearly half ‘feel empowered by their organisation to embrace the demands of the digital workplace’…

How do you feel about this digital thing, then? Given that ‘digital’ is fast becoming a synonym or even replacement for good old IT, one would think the preponderance of the stuff at home and at work would make it a fairly comfortable prospect. One would be wrong.

According to Microsoft’s Asia Workplace 2020 Study, 55 percent of employees in Australia do not feel empowered to embrace the demands of the digital workplace. We note that it is 2017 and not 2020 at present.

The vendor’s research, which polled just 311 respondents in Australia but around 4,200 in total, showed that 66 percent of local participants consider themselves to be mobile workers and spend at least 20 percent of their time working outside of their office. Of the total number, 45 percent ‘feel empowered’ by their organisation’s culture and management to be able to work together productively and collaboratively.

There are a lot of difficult-to-define-and-measure factors in that previous sentence, which makes it difficult to assess if this is indeed meaningful. Indeed, those over a certain age will recall the ‘fear’ of computers entering the workplace which pervaded the 1980s, or hark back to the 1970s, when even typewriters were viewed with suspicion. And in our modern age, too, the fear of machines persists.

Further, of the 311 Australians, 32 percent agreed that their organisation is ‘committed at a leadership level to ensure every employee is included in closing the digital skills gaps within the workforce’.

In a statement, Microsoft Australia spokesperson Sharon Schoenborn provided advice on what companies should do as technology continues to underpin competitive business: “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.”

Microsoft said 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’.

Some 72 percent of respondents said they value work-life integration, where the boundaries of work and life have blurred, with people able to collaborate and work virtually.

An earlier version of the study conducted in 2015 found that 39 out of 100 respondents in Australia were ready for what Microsoft calls ‘the New World of Work’ and which is defined as having ‘the right People, Place and Technology principles in place to enable a productive, collaborative and innovative workforce’. This year, 48 out of 100 respondents felt so, indicating organisations in the market are slightly more equipped.

Schoenborn said, “As the nature of work changes, how employees collaborate and work together will be impacted. It is critical for business and HR leaders to seek ways to better empower individuals and remove barriers to collaborate for the digital age.”

Altogether, the study involved working professionals from 14 markets in Asia and, said Microsoft, sought to understand shifting employee behaviours and gaps in the workplace when it came to productivity, collaboration and flexi-work practices.

Microsoft has made available a handy infographic.

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