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Employee wellbeing key part of future workplace strategies, study finds

Nearly all (92.1%) of APAC businesses are prioritising employee empowerment in their future workplace strategy, according to NTT Ltd’s Intelligent Workplace Report.

The report, Shaping Employee Experiences for a World Transformed, highlights that the COVID-19 pandemic has put employee wellbeing at the forefront of the business agenda.

Almost four-fifths (85.4%) of Asia Pacific (APAC) organisations agree that working from home during the pandemic has been challenging for employees.

Connectivity and workspace issues such as bandwidth, a feeling of isolation and a lack of dedicated workspace have all contributed to employee concerns.

As a result, organisations have to look at every aspect of workplace strategy to optimise employee experience. This includes culture, technology and location, NTT states.

As the world continues to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19, organisations must develop a more robust strategy to permanently provide for their distributed workforce.

At present, while 93% of organisations recognise the value of employee experience as a crucial strategic differentiator, only 39.2% are very satisfied with their current capability.

The report also shows that 80.8% of organisations agree employees would prefer to have the choice and flexibility to work in an office when it is safe to do so, and 92.1% agreed that face-to-face meeting time is essential to build a sense of teamwork and/or when meeting clients.

For now, a third of all APAC businesses (35.2%) have changed their IT policy to help employees work within a new operating model and half (51%) have deployed new communication and productivity tools.

However, in many cases, employees have been left to use their personal devices and applications which has rapidly increased the risk of security vulnerabilities. On this, only 58.6% have increased their IT security capabilities to keep their organisation and employees secure.

When it comes to physical office space, almost half (46.2%) of businesses are already reviewing the general office design and how best to align with employees' new needs.

Respondents have mixed opinions on what to do with office space in general, with more than a third (34.4%) of global C-suite execs saying they are looking to reduce office space, yet almost a quarter (24%) plan to increase it.

However, most agree that the physical space will have a more defined, flexible use to provide for a more collaborative environment.

The space will focus on connecting the distributed workforce, with 54.9% stating they will install video conferencing/video collaboration spaces to bring remote and office employees together.

It will also look to facilitate creativity and collaboration, with 42.3% stating they will implement creative/thinking spaces, and it will seek to drive activity-based work initiatives, with more than a quarter (26.5%) stating they will reduce individual office desk space and 29.9% stating they will increase meeting spaces.

NTT Ltd. CEO Asia Pacific John Lombard says, “The connected employee, their wellness and employee experience must be at the heart of the future workplace strategy.

"Helping people stay connected and keeping their data secure is key to looking after the workforce and maintaining productivity and effectiveness.

"Yet this must be underpinned by a long-term strategy for digital transformation, with the roll out of new technologies, policies and of course training so employees feel comfortable with new platforms.”

NTT Ltd. senior director of Intelligent Workplace Asia Pacific Pranay Anand says, “How businesses combat the challenges posed by COVID-19 and re-shape their workplace strategy, will lay the foundation for an entire generation's future of working.

"Businesses must react with agility and purpose. Were seeing companies driving change in real-time compared to months if not years previously.

"Those who were already ahead of the game in employee experience making brave, data-driven, human-led decisions are now in a much stronger position in creating a supportive culture.

"Empowering people and helping them find greater fulfilment in their work is delivering value to these organisations.”