Employees in organizations around the world are increasingly using their own devices (smartphones and tablets), apps, and tools in the workplace—with or without the approval of management. Companies worldwide need to assess how best to leverage digital tools or they will likely experience a loss of employee engagement, as well as the productivity and innovation improvements associated with digital use.

This growing use of digital technology—and its disrupting impact on established work patterns—is finding strong footing in the economic powerhouse that is Southeast Asia. Recent research by Accenture outlines the changes sweeping this region.

Accenture undertook several in-depth conversations with C-level executives, employee focus groups and survey, and a regional survey of over 400 businesses operating in Southeast Asia to help HR and IT leaders understand the fundamental changes sweeping through their workforces, with a specific focus on the rapidly rising influence of the youngest cohort of workers, Generation Y.

The impact and associated risks are more acute in Southeast Asia given the region’s insatiable appetite for all things digital, and the high proportion of young people. These Generation Yers have a distinctly different profile from previous generations in terms of their attitudes toward work and propensity for digital tools.

Despite all the changes that digital technologies are driving within the workplace, Accenture research revealed that while business leaders across Southeast Asia recognize the need to implement various programs to facilitate employee engagement, collaboration, and innovation, the adoption of such tools and practices is quite low:

  • only 27 percent allow employees to use their own hardware and/or software applications
  • only 35 percent allow employees to access customer data remotely
  • only 39 percent use social media to attract new talent
  • only 42 percent allow employees to work from home or flexible hours
  • only 48 percent use internal social media platforms for knowledge sharing.

While the strategy for building a digital-enabled workplace will vary by market, industry and organization, Accenture contends that companies need to “move beyond myopic perception of digital to consider employee engagement and innovation” and figure out a way to “understand the varying levels of comfort and interest in digital tools among the workforce.”

Accenture recommends that Southeast Asian companies must also craft a clear strategy that brings together both HR and IT leaders toward common goals in order to maximize the benefits that digital brings while minimizing the disruptive impact.

More details about the study, as well as recommendations for companies in Southeast Asia, can be found on the Accenture website.