Hong Kong beats Singapore on Microsoft’s ‘New World of Work’ index for APAC, but both still lag far behind emerging markets

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 September, 2015, 11:57am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 September, 2015, 3:34pm


Hong Kong topped the list of developed countries in the Asia-Pacific region on a new productivity index by Microsoft but was far behind emerging markets in the region, which are often less handicapped by red tape and entrenched business practices.

The so-called New World of Work (NWoW) index measured how well-equipped employees of medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are to perform in a mobile-first, cloud-first world. It included 200 respondents from Hong Kong and was published earlier this month.

READ MORE: Singapore only Asian nation in Global Innovation Index top 10, as Hong Kong just misses out

“While technology plays a key role to enable work from anywhere scenarios and higher productivity, there are other aspects such as organisational culture, policies, infrastructure, enabling collaboration or ability to break down barriers to innovation which are becoming increasingly important for an organisation to be competitive,” said Horace Chow, general manager of Microsoft Hong Kong.

The index was designed to throw light on how dynamic a city or country’s business environment is. SMBs make up more than 98 per cent of total business enterprises in Hong Kong and about 90 per cent in Asia, according to Microsoft.

Hong Kong scored 36.67 out of 100, slightly below the APAC average of 40 but still above Australia (36.33), Singapore (34.67), New Zealand (23.33) and Taiwan (21.00 ).

But the five emerging markets measured all scored significantly higher, with Indonesia coming first (61.67), followed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia

The report suggested Hong Kong must embrace new working practices to stay competitive, such as more flexible working hours and allowing employees to work on sensitive documents remotely.

Rank Market NWoW Index Score per cent using 4-5 productivity tools (emails, file-sharing, etc)
  APAC-wide 40.33 52
1 Indonesia 61.67 67
2 Philippines 61.00 80
3 Vietnam 44.33 80
4 Thailand 42.33 56
4 Malaysia 42.33 52
6 Hong Kong 36.67 50
7 Australia 36.33 35
8 Singapore 34.67 47
9 New Zealand 23.33 50
10 Taiwan 21.00 40

Source: Microsoft

The study also showed that being “on call” outside regular working hours is a reality for 78 per cent of SMB employees in Hong Kong. 

Moreover, 72 per cent must respond to inquiries from senior management within four hours – indicating the fast pace at which business is conducted in the world city.

Only a third of respondents said they were able to strike a reasonable work-life balance as their jobs become more demanding in the digital age, however.

The index focused on how staff interact with their working environment based on the three categories of people, place and technology, 

It also found that SMBs in Hong Kong are making good progress in terms of going green, with 83 per cent of respondents saying their organisations are increasingly moving towards becoming paperless.