Three key trends in digital workplaces for small & medium businesses

The modern workplace is going through a digital revolution. Changing technology trends such as bring-your-own-device (BYOD), Internet of Things (IoT) and virtual teams are impacting user behaviour, and thus transforming the workplace. Increasingly, we are seeing a transition from individualised, physical workspaces to a digital ecosystem with no physical boundaries.

Today’s millennial employees are accustomed to a seamless digital lifestyle and favour these changes in the workplace. They prefer modern workplaces that are conducive to critical thinking, collaboration and open communication. Employers who are eager to attract and retain millennial talent would do well to keep up with the times. By 2020, millennials will make up more than half 55% of the global ASEAN workforce1. Since millennials have different workplace expectations, organisations need a strategy to better engage their workforce, leveraging on millennial employees’ penchant for tech savviness and teamwork to drive digital transformations forward.

At the same time, Small & Medium Businesses owners may feel that they do not have the resources to modernise and digitalise their workplaces. After all, tech trends evolve at breakneck speed and working styles can be very subjective. However, adopting a digital workplace is not only beneficial for millennial workers, but can also lead to increased efficiency and productivity for all employees. While weighing business priorities, business builders may be worried about limited budgets but should also keep in mind the value of motivated and productive manpower. Here, Robin Chao, Vice President at Sage Asia, shares some digital workplace trends that Small & Medium Businesses leaders may want to take note of.

Mobile-first work environments

A key facet of digital workplaces is the concept of ‘mobile first’ work environments that utilise mobile applications as well as the cloud to allow employees to work anytime, anywhere. The increased flexibility provided by mobile first work tools improves productivity, as employees can choose to work at times and locations they prefer.

With the pervasive use of digital devices at the workplace, workers are now seeing the business value of leveraging social tools to carry out business objectives, such as building interest groups through social feeds, or even arranging for social tweet chats on a business topic. Social can be business, if used correctly.

In addition, better productivity can in turn lead to more benefits for businesses. A global study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)2 established links between organisations’ support for mobile technology and employee creativity, satisfaction and loyalty levels, which overall boosts employee engagement. With mobile being the platform of choice for the millennial generation, adopting a mobile-first work environment can greatly boost employee satisfaction.

Allow for virtual teamwork

Virtual co-working is another important aspect of the modern workplace. The digital workplace allows for individuality and creativity, as well as cooperation and collaboration. The ease of using digital tools can enhance collaboration among colleagues and help make the workplace more dynamic. An environment conducive to collaboration can help to reduce the chances of employees feeling disconnected or unmotivated at work – particularly important for the millennial workforce that reports feeling ‘checked out’3 or disengaged often.

Leveraging technology empowers employees to work smarter and be more productive. These tools include discussion and conferencing forums, as well as realtime collaboration platforms. A good example is DBS Bank’s online forum-based communications channel4, which helps cut through hierarchies and reduce miscommunication among employees.

The latest trend also sees workers leveraging a virtual workflow to carry out business tasks such as enabling business and finance approvals, through smart, secure and connected processes from anywhere in the world and at anytime, or by staff to apply for leave orcheck on salary payments through employee self-service portals. With these new technology advancements, virtual work is becoming a reality.

Change as opportunity

Small & Medium Businesses need to see the transformation to the digital workspace as a vital opportunity for them to stay ahead of the competition. In the digital revolution, data will be the currency driving tomorrow’s businesses. The digitalisation of the workplace allows data to be generated and analysed, helping businesses draw key insights that can improve overall operation and human resources. These insights are the very things that will keep Small & Medium Businesses competitive and relevant into the next ten years.

The digitalisation of the workplace is one key step that Small & Medium Businesses can take to keep up with the digital revolution, helping them to engage larger competitors on a more level playing field. With new opportunities in Singapore such as the new S$80 million programme5 to help Small & Medium Businesses go digital, the only question left to ask is ‘When will you start your workplace digitalisation journey?

- Robin Chao, Vice President & Managing Director, Sage Asia -


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