Mobile connectivity can supercharge careers -- study

People in the Philippines and in the rest of Asia are turning to their mobile phones to enhance their working lives as new work cultures emerge post-pandemic, according to a Telenor Asia study released this week.

Mobile connectivity boosts productivity, enhances career skills and taps into new business opportunities, according to Telenor's “Digital Lives Decoded” study which surveyed 8,2278 mobile internet users across eight countries - the Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Telenor, a leading global telecom firm serving 172 million customers in the Nordics and Asia, undertook the study in July 2022.

The surveyed covered mobile internet users evenly split by gender, ranging in age from 18 years and older, and crossing four generations: Gen Z (Born 1997 – 2012); Millennials (Born 1981 – 1996); Gen X (Born 1965 – 1980); and Baby Boomers (Born 1946 – 1964).

The study also examined the changing relationships between employers and employees, highlighting growing concerns over trust and control as hybrid work imposes a physical disconnect between employees and their managers.

"Our research points to mobile connectivity as an enabler of productivity, progress, flexibility and economic opportunity," explained Jørgen Rostrup, Head of Telenor Asia.

"Yet, we continue to see gaps in how this technology is used between urban and rural populations, large companies and SMEs, between industries and even between C-suite executives (those with senior leadership positions within a company, ranging from CEO to CISO) and their junior counterparts," he noted.

In addition, people remain highly concerned about their skills and ability to keep pace with advancing technology.

The aspect of trust is also preventing people from realising their full potential through mobile use in the world of work.

"As time spent working online increases, our survey findings can help identify the right tools and knowledge to close these gaps and improve digital work lives,” according to Rostrup.

Significantly, more women reported that mobile usage significantly improved their lives.

A total of 54 percent of women respondents, compared to 46 percent men, said their mobile phones also connect them to better job and career opportunities.

In the Philippines, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Pakistan, women are leading the way in using their mobile to find new ways of generating an income.

More C-suite executives also said they benefit from mobile use at work, as compared to employees at any other level.

Nearly two-thirds or 61 percent of C-suite executives say mobile devices have significantly improved their careers and skills development, compared to 47 percent of junior-level employees.

They are also more likely to see productivity gains, with 60 percent of C-suite executives as compared to 52 percent of those at a junior level saying productivity has improved by over 20 percent.

Despite this, C-suite executives (53 percent) signalled greater concerns than other employees (39 percent average) about their skills becoming outdated in this fast-paced working environment.

Almost seven in ten or 69 percent respondents believe that mobile connectivity is "very important" to the success of their organisation.

However, a similar number of people (62 percent) feel there are untapped business opportunities that could be exploited with better developed mobile technology infrastructure.

People named a lack of skills and knowledge (49 percent), resistance to changing practices and habits (31 percent) and unhelpful workplace policies (28 percent) as key barriers to fully utilising mobile connectivity at the workplace.

This is supported by 62 percent of respondents stating learning and development as an area in which their employer could improve the use and application of mobile technology; while 54 percent also cited HR systems and processes as another area for improvement.

While employees currently value the impact mobile technology has on their work life -- with only five percent believe that using their mobile device for work reduces their quality of life -- establishing safeguards to bolster trust will be critical for organisations in the pivot to a digital-first economy.

This will become even more important in the future, as many of the respondents indicated that they expect, a significant rise in their use of mobile phones for work over the next six to twelve months.

Already, privacy and security (60 percent) and lack of trust in technology (40 percent), are the top concerns flagged by respondents that prevent them from utilising mobile technology for greater benefits at work.

Majority of respondents across the region still believe that using their mobile devices for work improves quality of life, except in Singapore.

Only two in ten Singaporean respondents felt the improvement is significant – the lowest among all markets surveyed.

A notable 11 percent of Singaporean respondents said that mobile phones have reduced or significantly reduced their quality of life.