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While four-fifths of businesses in Hong Kong agree that home office has been a challenge for employees amid the pandemic, most businesses (85%) also agree that employee needs will be at the heart of the future workplace design, according to NTT's latest survey. 

Surveying 1350 participants across 19 markets, the research found that connectivity and workspace issues such as bandwidth, a feeling of isolation and a lack of dedicated workspace are the root of employees' concerns. 

A total of 70% of local organisations agree employees would prefer to have the choice and flexibility to work in an office when it is safe to do so, while about 93% agreed that face-to-face meeting time is essential to build a sense of teamwork and when meeting clients.

Even though more than nine out of ten local organisations recognise the value of employee experience as a crucial strategic differentiator, just 22% are very satisfied with their current capability. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, over a quarter of local businesses have already reviewed their general office design and how best to align with employees’ new needs.

Additionally, just 37% of Hong Kong businesses, have access to workplace analytics to help them understand and assess new pain points introduced by remote working.

Respondents are somewhat divided on what to do with office space in general, with over a third (34%) of global C-suite executives saying they are looking to reduce office space, while almost a quarter (24%) plan to increase it.

Almost a third of all businesses in Hong Kong have changed their IT policy to help employees work within a new operating model and (35%) have deployed new communication and productivity tools. With many employees using their personal devices for work matters, only half of the businesses have increased their IT security capabilities to keep their organisation and employees secure.

Looking ahead, most Hong Kong executives agree that the physical space will need to be more flexible in a bid to connect the distributed workforce, facilitate creativity and collaboration, and to drive activity-based work initiatives.

Over half of global C-suites strongly agree that now is the time to create the workplace of the future.

Most businesses plan to install video conferencing or video collaboration spaces to bring remote and office employees together. A total of 40% will implement creative and thinking spaces, and one-fifth will reduce individual office desk space and increase meeting spaces.

 “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,” said John Lombard, Asia Pacific CEO at NTT.