Published 10 December 2018 Category: Compass Survey

Compass Survey 2018: On Current Trends in Workplace Communication and Workspace Preferences

The constant advancements in technology have a direct impact on the ways we communicate and access information, in our daily lives as well as in business settings. Moreover, the steady influx of technology across all business sectors has in many ways reshaped the modern workplace.

We conducted a comprehensive survey to understand the exact ways in which the internet, social media, and other technological developments have influenced our methods of communication, access to information, and workspace preferences.

We asked our clients and some non-clients from six countries to share their experiences. Overall, 422 respondents answered our survey – 230 from Hong Kong, 60 from Australia, 41 from Singapore, 36 from the Philippines, 28 from Vietnam, and 27 from Japan.

Email Is Still the Preferred Method of Workplace Communication


Despite the growing popularity of social media platforms and instant messaging services, email is still the preferred method of workplace communication. Every single respondent to our survey has used email in business communication with 95% of them claiming to use it on a regular basis. Email communication is closely followed by two more traditional communication methods – phone calls (used often by 70% of respondents) and face-to-face meetings (practised regularly by 61% of all respondents).

Instant messaging platforms like WhatsApp and WeChat are used by 67% of respondents in all six countries. This method is particularly popular in Hong Kong and Singapore, where it outranks phone calls and face-to-face meetings. On the other hand, 23% of respondents from Australia said that they have never used these platforms to conduct business communication.

Social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook are used for business communication by 41% of all respondents. They are most popular in Vietnam where 64% of respondents use them on a regular basis. SMS is in the last place with 24% of all respondents saying they have never used it for business. However, 73% of respondents from the Philippines regularly use SMS in their workplace, making it the third most preferred method of business communication there, only 1% behind the second-placed phone calls.

Messenger Services Are Most Often Used for Internal Communication


The results of the survey show that most respondents (72%) who use messenger services like WhatsApp and WeChat for business communication do so to communicate with their colleagues. About 58% of all respondents use these services to communicate with clients, while 44% use them to communicate with suppliers and 45% to discuss business-related topics in groups.

Although there are no major differences in results for individual countries, it is interesting to note that 43% of respondents from Japan have never used instant messaging services to communicate with suppliers. This makes Japan stand out from other countries where about 25% of respondents have yet to use WeChat and WhatsApp to keep in touch with their suppliers.

Two-Thirds of Respondents Find Social Media Trustworthy


In recent years, we have witnessed the rise of a new phenomenon known as social journalism. Also known as citizen journalism, it was facilitated by WordPress and Twitter, two popular online platforms that give their users an opportunity to share important news stories before large media outlets have had a chance to report on them. With more and more people getting their news from Facebook and Twitter, there has been a lot of debate about how trustworthy social media actually is as a source of information.

According to our survey, almost two-thirds (63%) of all respondents believe that social media is a trustworthy source of general information. In Vietnam, 85% of respondents answered positively, which shouldn’t come as a surprise in light of a recent Pew Research Centre survey that found more than half of Vietnamese citizens were getting their news from social media.

Australia is the only country where less than 60% of respondents answered positively to the question. While 57% of Australian respondents trust the information they find on social media, the other 43% don’t. This is in line with the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer results, which show that Australians are rapidly losing trust in social media in the wake of the “fake news” phenomenon. Instead, they are turning to traditional news media outlets to get their information.

The Vote Is Split on Social Media as a Source of Business Information

With more just under two-thirds of respondents finding social media a reliable source of general information, it is only natural to assume that many of them also use it as a source of business news. However, the results of our survey show that the vote is split, with 52% of respondents finding social media trustworthy and 48% who prefer to get business information from other, more reliable sources.

Looking at individual countries, it is interesting to note that the vote was evenly split in the Philippines, while more respondents from Singapore (56%) and Hong Kong (51%) don’t find social media trustworthy when it comes to business information. Surprisingly, Australians are not so distrusting, with 55% saying that they believe the business news they get from social media. Once again, the numbers are very high in Vietnam where a huge 82% of respondents find social media reliable as a source of business info.


More Than Half of Respondents Are Not Comfortable in Open Workspaces


This recent Compass survey also wanted to examine the current trends in workspace preferences. Despite the growing popularity of open workspaces shared by two or more companies, the majority of all respondents (54%) strongly object to this method of work. In fact, only 5% wouldn’t mind working in an open workspace.
All respondents from Singapore and Japan would have at least some reservations about working in such a setting. Meanwhile, 60% of respondents from Hong Kong wouldn’t want to share their workspace with other companies. On the other hand, only 25% of respondents from Vietnam would object to the idea, while 29% are indifferent.

Although they are not too keen on shared workspaces, most respondents (61%) prefer a work environment that gives them access to social and networking activities. The respondents from the Philippines seem to be the most social, with 87% in favour of networking activities in the workplace.

Privacy and Security are the Most Valued Qualities of a Workspace


All the participants were also asked if they’d prefer a ready-made workspace in case they needed a new one. A large majority (70%) responded positively, with similar results for individual countries. The only notable exception is Japan, where 50% responded yes, while 42% were indifferent.

According to the results of this survey, privacy and security are still the most valued and sought-after qualities in a workspace. Of all the respondents, 90% said to value security and privacy, while 7% of them were indifferent and only 3% claimed that they don’t place a lot of value on those two qualities. Looking at individual countries, respondents from Vietnam (96%), the Philippines (94%), and Hong Kong (92%) are particularly adamant about security and privacy in the workspace.

The Jury Is Out on Alcohol in the Workplace


Although not illegal, the consumption of alcoholic beverages in the workplace is universally frowned upon. After all, not only can it impair a person’s ability to deliver their best work but it could also put others in serious danger. Despite this, alcoholic beverages have become an essential part of the modern workplace. From business lunches, team meet-ups, and other social events, alcohol is everywhere.

With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that 26% of all respondents can’t find anything wrong with having alcoholic beverages in the workplace. Even though 44% of respondents are strongly against it, the fact that 29% are indifferent to this topic is also worrisome.

The situation is particularly alarming in Australia, where 43% of respondents had no objections to alcohol in the workplace. This is in line with the findings of a 2012 survey conducted by the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, which claimed that more than 90% of Australians were drinking in the workplace.
On the positive side, the respondents from Vietnam (67%) and the Philippines (63%) were predominantly against drinking in the office, although the indifference rates of 21% and 17% respectively shouldn’t be overlooked.

In Conclusion

Although some of the results of this survey could have been easily predicted, some are quite surprising. For one, the popularity of email as the top method of business education is very impressive, especially with the growing popularity of social media and messenger services that tend to be more personal and user-friendly. The fact that face-to-face meetings and phone calls are still standing strong is just as interesting and show that despite the onset of digital communication, verbal communication is still King.

The popularity of social media as a source of general information is another finding that shouldn’t be ignored. This is particularly worrisome in light of the recent rise of the “fake news” phenomenon which is more prevalent on social networking sites than any other media outlets.

It is also surprising to learn that more than half of respondents wouldn’t be comfortable working in shared workspaces. The most surprising, however, is the finding that every fourth respondent believes that it’s perfectly normal to have alcoholic beverages in the workplace. What’s more, the fact that 43% of Australian respondents are fine with alcohol in the office points to a much larger cultural problem that needs addressing.
If you’re looking for co-working spaces, individual desks, meeting rooms, fully serviced offices, or virtual offices for your team, Compass Offices can help you. Visit our website to find your ideal office space in business centres across the Asia-Pacific region.

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