Productivity in the New World of Work

Microsoft in Asia responds to today’s dynamic business environment by adapting to the

“New World of Work”

Social and business trends see benefits gained from a move to flexible working

Singapore – July 2, 2012 – Globally, we are witnessing a seismic shift in the way people work. This is especially true in Asia which, according to the Harvard Business Review, is the most socially engaged region in the world on the web.

Today, South East Asia has a surging population of younger workers, who are increasingly urbanized, tech savvy and accustomed to working in a multilingual workforce.

In response to this, Microsoft believes that we need to move to what it calls a New World of Work, in which redesigned offices and the latest technology facilitate even greater flexibility to make our working lives easier and more manageable.

The approach to the New World of Work is based on the idea that change takes place in three areas: people, place and technology. These themes are interrelated and success depends on understanding and optimizing the overlap between them. The impetus for undertaking a journey to a New World of Work usually lies in one or more of these three key areas:

  • People – Modern society’s mental approach to technology is shifting, becoming faster, more social, more integrated, enabling us to work and communicate in different ways.
  • Places – We are increasingly working on the move – from airports, other offices, during the commute or from home – meaning that we have become more fluid in terms of our physical presence.
  • Technology – As the lines become blurred between home and work, the idea of the office as the primary work location is being challenged as we evolve the idea of being able to work any time, any place and anywhere.

The New World of Work combines these three elements into an approach that provides both the organization and its people with an environment that lets them do their best work wherever they are. At its center is trust: empowering staff and giving them the freedom to work whenever and wherever they want, by measuring employee effectiveness and performance in terms of output, rather than being present in the office.

Microsoft in Singapore

In Singapore, where Microsoft has a workforce of 1200, the company has completed re-vamped the office space to make the New World of Work a reality. Now, there are no assigned desks or private offices for managers and employees can work anywhere in the office by using a PC, handset, webcam or smartphone. In addition, the office space has been re-designed to better align with the nature of the work allowing employees to choose the space that best suits their work activity. This has resulted in a 16 percent reduction in office footprint while having sufficient capacity for the next four years.

Tracey Fellows, Area Vice President, Microsoft Asia Pacific comments, “At Microsoft, we actively encourage our employees to work from wherever’s most productive for them – whether that’s in the office, at home or somewhere else.” A recent employee surveyi conducted with Microsoft employees based out of Singapore revealed that 54 percent of employees reported an increase in productivity levels, 49 percent confirmed they collaborate more with their colleagues and 77 percent reported an improvement in their working environment over the previous one.

Globally, Microsoft is one of only 13 companies to be continuously featured in FORTUNE magazine’s ’100 Best Companies to Work For’, since the index launched in 1998. In addition, in 2011, Microsoft was ranked No. 1 on the Great Place to Work Institute’s World’s Best Multinational Workplaces List.

Microsoft intends to roll-out the New World of Work initiative across its offices in APAC and has already seen benefits where it has done so in Australia, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and now Singapore. In addition, it is expected to be rolled out in New Zealand, Korea, Bangladesh and Indonesia over the course of 2012 and 2013.

Organizational experts have also studied the benefits resulting from transitioning to the New World of Work. Dr. James Eyring, Chief Operating Officer, Organisation Solutions notes, “The changing nature of work is causing fundamental shifts in how organizations utilize their workspace and manage team members. Companies that manage this well have experienced a 20-50% improvement in collaboration and productivity. Employees also report improved well-being, job satisfaction and commitment to the organization.”

Taking the next step into the New World of Work is all about changing how organizations embrace the new digital lifestyle and the accompanying physical, cultural and mental changes to empower people to work in the way they find most productive. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution and each organization must embark on its own journey towards the physical and mental changes that will best define its New World of Work.

Tracey Fellows added, “The challenge for businesses and organizations is creating a culture where employees feel trusted to decide how and where they work and giving them access to technology that means they can be productive and still be part of the team.”

There are multiple benefits to be gained from a new way of working: for businesses both large and small it leads to increased productivity, as well as an improved ability to attract and retain the best talent. Greater flexibility for employees results in higher satisfaction and quality of life and, for the environment, less unnecessary traffic and reduced CO2 emissions.

Recent research commissioned by Microsoft on “Attitudes Towards Flexible Workingii”, revealed that 73 percent of workers think their lives would improve if they could work more flexibly, but less than a third of businesses provide guidelines on flexible work. Furthermore the research showed that the larger the organization, the less likely its employees are to work flexibly.