Adobe today released new research revealing that almost 50 percent of office workers in Southeast Asia rate access to technology above perks like food and slick office design. “The Future of Work: APAC Study” engaged close to 5,000 office workers from 10 countries across the Asia Pacific region – with 346 responses from SEA, including Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand – and examined how the roles of people, experiences and machines are evolving and transforming workplaces.

Workplace Technology Key to Market Success
Across APAC, organizations investing in workplace technology are more likely to be successful in the market. The survey found 89 percent of employees who rate their companies as above-average business performers also believe their companies are technology-focused (compared to 64 percent for those who say their company is a below-average performer). In fact, employees of successful businesses are over two times more likely to rate their organization as ‘extremely focused’ on technology, when compared to those who rate their companies as below-average performing businesses.

“In the era of the Experience Business, organizations in SEA have realized that outstanding customer experiences hinge on their ability to attract the best people. Hence, businesses are ramping up efforts to invest in workplace technologies to drive efficiency and productivity, and deliver a compelling experience for employees”, said V.R. Srivatsan, Managing Director, Adobe Southeast Asia.

Man vs. Machine
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have helped automate an increasing number of work functions that are changing the productivity paradigm. SEA respondents (40 percent) were among the least concerned in APAC (46 percent) when asked about the impact of AI and machine learning on their jobs. In SEA, 97 percent of respondents were interested in using AI to perform mundane office tasks – above the APAC average of 93 percent.

Enabling Work-Life Balance with Technology
The survey found that technology is critical to enabling work-life balance for office workers across Asia Pacific. 62 percent of APAC office workers surveyed were based in major metropolitan cities, with populations of more than 5 million. These respondents cited crowded public transport and long travel times for short distances as their biggest pain points from working in a big city.

In SEA, almost two-thirds of the office workers rated infrastructural facilities, lifestyle choices and the wide availability of jobs as top reasons for choosing to live in major cities. They picked the ability to work across all their devices, 24×7 availability, the ability to collaborate with their team, as the most important ways by which technology accelerates their productivity.

“SEA is at the heartbeat of rapid economic evolution and great growth opportunities, with digital technology being one of the biggest drivers. As tremendous opportunities arise in major cities, technology becomes key to helping workers advance in their careers while overcoming the challenges of widespread urbanization,” said Srivatsan.

Millennials Drive Innovation
While technology spearheads innovation at workplaces, young workers are also driving positive transformation across organizations. SEA respondents stated that propagating social media use and engagement, sparking creative thinking and innovative projects, and creating diverse and open-minded environments, are top ways younger workers are driving change.

“Millennials have become a workforce to be reckoned with, and they are changing workplaces across SEA. These discerning new age workers are leading the charge in terms of innovation, and also driving initiatives like diversity and how technology is used at work,” added Srivatsan.

Other key findings from SEA in “The Future of Work: APAC Study” include:
• Money is not the only consideration – 94 percent of respondents would continue to work even if they won a lottery, and nearly 60 percent would continue in the same job. 35 percent of those surveyed would use the lottery money to pursue their dream career, and only 6 percent would stop work entirely.
• Why work? – Supporting their lifestyle choices and families were the top two APAC contributors to the overall motivation to work. Respondents in SEA shared similar sentiments and ranked supporting their family as the top motivating factor to work, followed by fulfilling their lifestyle needs.
• Motivations to work at current organization – Following salary (54 percent) and perks (43 percent), the ability to advance was the next highest ranked motivating factor (30 percent) across office workers in SEA working in their current roles. Access to education and training, as well as regular communication from senior leaders, were rated as important by 21 percent respondents.
• Communication is key – 49 percent of respondents rated technology for communicating with colleagues as the top factor in creating the ideal workspace. This was followed closely by access to state-of the-art technology at work (46 percent), and access to food and beverages (34 percent).

“Historically, work has been about trading labor for income. As value is migrating to capital, to assets, to technology, we need to think differently about what work is. Increasingly, work needs to also be about how we choose to spend our time, and how we derive meaning from that,” said Su-Yen Wong, Chairman, Nera Telecommunications – who was also one of the panellists at the recent Adobe APAC Think Tank: The Future of Work.

The Future of Work: APAC Study engaged more than 4,700 APAC office workers who use a computer daily for work. Research was conducted from October 17 to November 13, 2017. The survey included working professionals from various sectors (healthcare, manufacturing, banking/finance, technology/telecom, media & entertainment etc.) across 10 countries – Australia, New Zealand, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Korea, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.