Improved productivity, enhanced career skills and tapping into new business opportunities are just some of the ways people in Asia are turning to their mobile phones to enhance their working lives, according to a study by Telenor Asia.
The study, and second instalment in the “Digital Lives Decoded” series launched in conjunction with Telenor Asia’s 25th anniversary, looks at how respondents across the region are using their mobiles to adapt to changing realities, as new work cultures emerge post-pandemic.
It also examines the changing relationships between employers and employees, highlighting growing concerns over trust and control as hybrid work imposes a physical disconnect between employees and their managers. The study surveyed 8,000 mobile internet users across eight countries (Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) in South and Southeast Asia.
“Our research points to mobile connectivity as an enabler of productivity, progress, flexibility and economic opportunity. Yet, we continue to see gaps in how this technology is used between urban and rural populations, large companies and SMEs, between industries and even between C-suite executives and their junior counterparts. In addition, people remain highly concerned about their skills and ability to keep pace with advancing technology. The aspect of trust is also preventing people from realising their full potential through mobile use in the world of work. As time spent working online increases, our survey findings can help identify the right tools and knowledge to close these gaps and improve digital work lives,” said Jørgen Rostrup, Head of Telenor Asia.
1. More Women and C-suite executives say they gain from mobile connectivity for work
Echoing the first instalment of the report, where more women reported that mobile usage significantly improves their lives, 54 percent of women respondents compared to 46 percent men, said their mobile phones also connect them to better job and career opportunities. In Bangladesh, the Philippines, Vietnam and Pakistan, women are leading the way in using their mobile to find new ways of generating an income.
More C-suite executives also said they benefit from mobile use at work, as compared to employees at any other level. Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of C-suite executives say mobile devices have significantly improved their careers and skills development, compared to 47 percent of junior-level employees. They are also more likely to see productivity gains, with 60 percent of C-suite executives as compared to 52 percent of those at a junior level saying productivity has improved by over 20 percent. Despite this, C-suite executives (53 percent) signalled greater concerns than other employees (39 percent average) about their skills becoming outdated in this fast-paced working environment.
2. Workplace policies and practices lag behind
Almost seven in ten (69 percent) respondents believe that mobile connectivity is ‘very important’ to the success of their organisation. However, a similar number of people (62 percent) feel there are untapped business opportunities that could be exploited with better developed mobile technology infrastructure.
People named a lack of skills and knowledge (49 percent), resistance to changing practices and habits (31 percent) and unhelpful workplace policies (28 percent) as key barriers to fully utilising mobile connectivity at the workplace.
This is supported by 62 percent of respondents stating learning and development as an area in which their employer could improve the use and application of mobile technology; while 54 percent also cited HR systems and processes as another area for improvement.
3. Trust issues on the rise
While employees currently value the impact mobile technology has on their work life (only five percent believe that using their mobile device for work reduces their quality of life), establishing safeguards to bolster trust will be critical for organisations in the pivot to a digital-first economy. This will become even more important in the future, as many of the respondents indicated that they expect, a significant rise in their use of mobile phones for work over the next six to twelve months.
Already, privacy and security (60 percent) and lack of trust in technology (40 percent), are the top concerns flagged by respondents that prevent them from utilising mobile technology for greater benefits at work.
4. Singapore most sceptical about benefits of mobile devices at work
On multiple fronts, respondents in Singapore reported the least significant positive impact of mobile usage on their working lives. Just 35 percent (regional average 55 percent) indicate that mobile devices have improved their personal productivity at work by more than 20 percent, while 69 percent (regional average 90 percent) felt that mobile devices have contributed positively to their skills development in the workplace.
While the majority of respondents across the region still believe that using their mobile devices for work improves quality of life, in Singapore only two in ten felt the improvement is significant – the lowest among all markets surveyed. A notable 11 percent of Singaporean respondents said that mobile phones have reduced or significantly reduced their quality of life.