Published 04 April 2017 Category: Insights, Compass Cities

5 Workforce Trends in Hong Kong and Singapore

When it comes to the bustling financial hubs of Hong Kong and Singapore—long the business-brimming headquarters to established Asian industry titans—the question for many is how to move forward. While there are few challenges left when it comes to the product, companies are battling to discover new ways to breathe new life into the office, engage their workforce, and boost employee productivity. Because, put simply, Hong Kong and Singapore are suffering a workforce problem.

Here are the top five trends we see in workforce trends that are gaining traction in both Hong Kong and Singapore:
1. Engage Your Workforce
According to a survey by market intelligence firm survey IDC, only 28% of employees in Hong Kong found their work to be engaging and satisfactory. Major American management consultant Gallup found that in Hong Kong, dramatically low well-being is damaging corporations. Meanwhile, in Singapore, Gallup also found that Singapore lacks entrepreneurial talent and that in 2015, only a dramatically low 9% of the city-state’s workforce was engaged. This seems like a foreboding omen for how 2017 will play out, especially given the economic challenges that Asia is facing. But the solutions are surprisingly simple—and some large companies are already making the right step forward.
2. Make Your Office More Flexible
One of the big trends carrying over into the new year is flexible office space. Let’s take a look at the burst in this trend in Singapore. More than 20 flexible office spaces have opened over the past two years. In a city that was suffering a lack of entrepreneurial talent just a few years ago, this could be the ticket that turns it into a launch pad for startups, creative spirit, and of course, a far more engaged workforce that takes pride and enjoyment in their day jobs.
The skyrocketing rent in Hong Kong, especially, can’t be ignored either. Record rents in the financial districts are pushing new offices out to the suburbs—which we’ve found that employees dislike, because of the long commute. Flexible office space offers an easy solution, because they’re centrally located with cheaper rents. 
3. Rub Shoulders with Entrepreneurs
In Hong Kong, banking giant HSBC is shaking up traditional hierarchy by renting desks at a flexible office space. After renting 300 desks last year, the bank found that the benefits far extended cutting costs—employees enjoyed networking, allowing them to collaborate in an agile work environment. It also allowed them to rub shoulders with other digitally minded employees and gain new ideas.
4. Design Your Office Space for Energy and Health
Open floor plans and “nap pods” are also being embraced as established companies ditch their traditional mindsets and begin adapting to the modern workforce. In Singapore, both SAP and Virgin Active have provided so-called energy pods—essentially, light- and sound-proof chairs—for their employees to take a rest while at work, and recharge when they need to. In Hong Kong, architects are doing away with walls and cubicles to encourage large, open spaces for inter-office collaboration.
5. Don’t Underestimate the Value of Perks
Our own surveys we conducted late last year found that employees in both Hong Kong and Singapore greatly value the perks often found at flexible office spaces—which isn’t too much of a challenge to bring into the office, for those companies that need to stick with a traditional space. For example, companies can start a policy with hot desks, and make a dedicated space for relaxing. One of the biggest things that made employees happy in both cities was being located near public transit—so companies should shoot for prime locations if they can.
However a company chooses to move forward into the year, it’s vital to remember that focus needs to shift to the workforce. As it becomes both larger and younger, there is a new and unrelenting demand for satisfaction on work hours. Low engagement and high turnover are costly dangers that can be easily avoided. Asia has a reputation for incredible dynamism—why not move with the times?