Are you on pins and needles to get back to the office, or are you a bit more hesitant? Our new Meeting Trends 2021 research uncovered 5 new trends for the hybrid workplace. One of them is that employees worldwide can’t wait to get back to the office. Read on to learn more about when and how we will be returning to the office.
When are we returning to the office? One year into the pandemic and the enthusiasm about working from home has taken a turn. At the start of the pandemic, many were over the moon about the benefits of WFH: no commutes, flexible work hours, etc.
However, our 2020 Hybrid Meeting research already showed that slowly but surely the downsides started to outweigh the benefits. Employees miss social interaction, experience Zoom fatigue and struggle to balance office and domestic tasks. Our Meeting Trends Research 2021 shows that 56% of employees are eager to return to the office, and 72% expects to be back by the end of June 2021.
When are we returning?
Right now, actually. 50% of the workforce already comes into the office on occasion. We do see some regional differences here. Australia and France appear to be at the forefront of the back-to-the-office trend, with respectively 82% and 61% of employees, having already (partially) returned. In India and the US, the majority of workers hasn’t returned yet, with respectively only 40% and 42% signalling that they are already back at the office. Most employees (72%) expect to be back by the end of June. However, in Germany, many employees believe that they will only be able to return from July to September and onwards.
Who is pushing the return?
C-level management is encouraging employees to come back, 66% of employees believe their CEO would like to see all employees back at the office. 41% also think their manager is also pushing them to return to the office. Employees themselves are also eager to return, on average 56% of employees want to get back to the office. In India, it’s even 76% of workers that are waiting to sit at their office desk again.
Will work at the office be the same?
Employees want to return but this doesn’t mean that they are ready to give up the newfound flexibility in their work that WFH brought. Workers want to choose when and where they work and are tired of struggling with virtual.
This leads to the ideal workweek balance shifting in favour of the office. In September 2020, people were still more optimistic about working from home and employees indicated that the ideal workweek would be 2 days at home and 3 days at the office.
Today, the desire to work from home has dropped to 1,5 days a week, with employees preferring to spend more time, 3,5 days per week, at the office.
Undoubtedly, in-office and remote team members will have to be united in the new hybrid workplace.
Lieven Bertier is the Segment Marketing Director Workplace at Barco.
Lieven is an experienced B2B marketer and has worked across multiple marketing disciplines in the technology industry. Since 2014 he has been part of Barco’s ClickShare team, responsible for all strategic marketing activities. He strongly believes in user experience and is convinced that the way people work together is the number one competitive advantage for companies in today’s dynamic world.
Lieven loves a good story, and always starts from user research to reflect on the role of technology and collaboration in the workplace.
The Indian Institute of Technology Madras’ (IIT-Madras) Robert Bosch Centre for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (RBCDSAI) is launching the ‘RBCDSAI Industrial Consortium’ to provide information resources on cutting-edge technologies to industries working on artificial intelligence (AI).
The consortium will help industry members learn about the scientific developments and latest trends in AI and data science through broad-based interactions with the centre and its faculty. According to an official at the Institute, RBCDSAI carries out high-quality AI research and the idea is to use the industrial consortium as a means to quickly disseminate the output of the research to industry partners so that they can work together towards launching applications in the field.
As per a news report, currently, the centre offers two membership plans to the interested industries: platinum and silver. The membership plans will enable priority access to four RBCDSAI events, namely, colloquia, quarterly workshops, industry conclaves, and annual research showcases. The centre will organise two special half-day workshops on their voted topic of interest from a slate for its members. Additionally, platinum members will have a dedicated in-domain contact faculty at the centre for close interaction to seek suggestions on their industry’s plans. They will get to exclusively interact with the students to know more about their research and have early access to RBCDSAI publications, reports, datasets, and other research material.
The consortium membership will also provide enhanced interaction with the RBCDSAI research ecosystem and help develop a specialised workforce that can benefit member companies. It will act as a forum that leverages synergistic capabilities of the eventual users, solution providers, solution platform developers, and academicians, the report stated. An RBCDSAI Consortium membership is an opportunity for players to establish themselves as key players in data science and Al with the potential to secure new and significant revenue streams.
RBCDSAI is one of India’s preeminent interdisciplinary research centres for data science and AI, with 28 faculty spanning ten departments of IIT-Madras working on various aspects and applications of AI. The centre explores areas like deep learning, network analytics, reinforcement learning, natural language processing, theoretical machine learning, and ethics and fairness in AI. It also carries out applied research in multiple verticals such as financial analytics, manufacturing analytics, smart cities, systems biology, and healthcare.
In August, IIT-Madras inaugurated the country’s first consortium for virtual reality called the ‘Consortium for VR/AR/MR Engineering Mission in India’ (CAVE). The consortium comprises a group of academic institutions, industries, start-ups, and government bodies. It will enable members to create new advanced technologies and applications in virtual reality, augmented reality, XR, and haptics technology.
As OpenGov Asia reported, the consortium will promote best practices and create a dialogue with stakeholders, government policymakers, and research institutions. It aims to become a resource for industry, academia, consumers, and policymakers interested in virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. The key outcomes envisaged from CAVE include developing indigenous VR/AR/MR and haptics hardware and software and setting up a ‘VR Superhighway’ or ‘VR Corridor’ where many start-ups can work together to make India a global hub for XR and haptics needs.
Thailand’s cabinet, on 25 October 2021, approved a draft decree to regulate digital platform service businesses to maintain financial and commercial stability and to prevent damage to the public, a government spokesman said.
Such businesses, both in and outside of Thailand, will need to notify the government before operating, the spokesman said in a statement. The law will apply to various digital platform services including online marketplaces, social commerce, food delivery, space sharing, ride/car sharing and online search engines, he said. The spokesman also noted that they are all increasingly important to the economy and society, so there is a need to oversee them.
Since 1 September 2021, Thailand has followed in the footsteps of many countries in imposing a value-added tax (VAT) charge of 7% on non-resident digital service providers. It is a significant step for the country in capturing revenue created by the digitalisation of the economy.
The ‘e-service tax’ obliges non-resident digital service providers that earn over THB1.8 million per year to pay the VAT. The department expects around 100 foreign e-service providers to register to pay VAT in Thailand during the initial stage of tax enforcement.
So far, about 70 foreign e-service operators have registered, of which 20 are giant online platform operators. Since the tax is not a direct tax on income but an indirect tax via VAT, some e-service providers are likely to pass the tax burden onto customers. As such, those who pay the tax are not those e-platform operators but local end-users.
However, some doubt remains about how effective the tax scheme will be. The department is faced with several questions. How can the Revenue Department verify the amount of VAT that those foreign digital platform providers have to pay? What can the government do if they fail to pay the tax, especially when several operators have no physical presence?
E-service tax can ensure fairer treatment for local digital service providers who bear a higher cost burden as they are obliged to pay VAT. However, as the digital economy is growing, VAT collections alone might not ensure fair competition.
While other foreign businesses and investors including local digital service providers pay Thai corporate tax on income, non-resident digital service providers do not have to as they are not physically present in Thailand. So, these service providers still have an upper hand.
Digitalisation and the digital economy are continuing to grow. Figures by DataReportal show that there were 48.59 million internet users in Thailand in January 2021. The number of internet users in Thailand increased by 3.4 million (+7.4%) between 2020 and 2021. Internet penetration in Thailand stood at 69.5% in January 2021.
There were 55.00 million social media users in Thailand in January 2021. The number of social media users in Thailand increased by 3.0 million (+5.8%) between 2020 and 2021. The number of social media users in Thailand was equivalent to 78.7% of the total population in January 2021. Moreover, device ownership also grew and diversified.
These statistics highlight the fact that a growing digital economy requires a comprehensive and effective tax and regulation strategy, which is now in the works in Thailand.
Artificial intelligence is on the verge of radically altering our society and industry. The AI trend of technological singularity is rapidly growing, and it is being used in a wide range of human endeavours, including education, medicine, business, engineering, and the arts. This cutting-edge technology has been integrated into the government and business sector all around the world.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) emphasised that innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) can help the nation thrive in a post-pandemic environment. Global challenges can be better managed through innovative technologies, and Philippine companies cannot be left behind in this regard. In a post-pandemic world, the trade undersecretary Rafaelita Aldaba stressed the importance of harnessing the power of emerging technologies for local businesses to remain competitive.
In a statement, the minister said, “while we recognise that collective efforts are instrumental in addressing challenges that are global in scale such as the pandemic, we acknowledge that innovative initiatives, like AI, must be harnessed and be placed at the core of all our endeavours to ensure that we will not only overcome overwhelming obstacles but also guarantee that our industries will remain adoptable amidst our ever-changing economic landscape.”
Innovative initiatives, for instance, AI must be harnessed and be placed at the core of all our endeavours to ensure that we will not only overcome overwhelming obstacles but also guarantee that our industries will remain adoptable amidst our ever-changing economic landscape and that they will thrive moving forward.
– Rafaelita Aldaba, Undersecretary, Department of Trade and Industry
The DTI noted that apart from being aware of innovative technologies, local firms would be able to embrace and adapt to new economic realities, which includes AI and other similar technologies. Continuing in this vein, the government through the DTI is working endlessly to reach a higher level of recent technological and innovative breakthroughs to propel the country’s economy forward and improve the competitiveness of its industries, particularly at a time when the global economy is being rocked by disruptions from all directions. DTI will host the Inclusive Innovation Industrial Strategy (I3S) to carry out its objective, which will bring together participants from government, industry, and academia.
The event will feature some of the country’s top AI experts, who will enhance and widen participants’ understanding and appreciation of this innovative technology. It will also focus on discussions surrounding the proposed National Centre for AI Research, as well as experiences and insights on the adoption of AI by businesses, particularly considering the lingering pandemic, and critical issues surrounding AI, particularly those related to ethics, governance, and regulations.
The Philippines was ranked 51st out of 132 economies in the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO) Global Innovation Index (GII) study released last month, despite the challenges posed by Covid-19 and a decreasing budget for research and development (R&D).
OpenGov Asia recently reported on the growth of the business process outsourcing sector in recent decades. The processing of artificial intelligence is expected to be an emerging industry for the Philippines. Reporting to the President and the Nation, Department of Trade, and Industry (DTI) Secretary stated that the government and private sector are working together to expand AI technology in the country. He was confident that the Philippines could be a big data processing hub and that AI would be the next centre for excellence after BPO – which the Philippines is known for
When the DTI released the industry blueprint last May, the Philippines became one of the first 50 countries in the world to launch a national AI roadmap. The national AI roadmap aims to transform the country into an AI powerhouse in the region. AI adoption, according to a research firm, has the potential to add USD92 billion to the Philippine economy by 2030. According to the national AI roadmap, the country will establish the government-initiated National Centre for AI Research, which will be led by the private sector (NCAIR).
The DTI’s AI roadmap also seeks to provide direction on the use of AI to sustain local industries’ regional and worldwide competitiveness, as well as identify priority areas for government, industry, and broader society to invest time and resources in both research and development and technology application.
In providing guidelines and operationalising digital banking, the Financial Services Authority (OJK) has officially released the Blueprint for Digital Banking Transformation. The launching is intended to be a policy milestone in addressing the issues and risks associated with banking’s digital transformation.
The Blueprint for Digital Banking Transformation also aims to set rules for the banking industry, according to Heru Kristiyana, the Chief Executive of OJK Banking Supervision. “We will communicate the newly printed banking blueprint to all stakeholders,” he said today during the virtual introduction of the digital transformation blueprint. According to Heru, over time, traditional banking will be eroded if it does not carry out digital transformation.
OpenGov Asia reported that this blueprint will serve as a policy response to the various challenges and risks associated with banking digital transformation. The blueprint for digital banking transformation, according to OJK Deputy Commissioner for Banking Supervision, is said to be a more detailed description of the acceleration of digital transformation in the Indonesian banking development roadmap.
The fintech industry was still afflicted by a slew of digital issues, including fraud, information hacking via the sniffing method, and money mule schemes in which perpetrators ask victims to transfer money to someone else’s account. The ministry has proposed precautionary measures to ensure that the fintech industry grows in tandem with the bolstering of Indonesia’s digital economy ecosystem.
Moreover, as per Heru, technological disruption has allowed new actors in the financial ecosystem to emerge, such as fintech and others, who may provide services like those provided by banks without having a physical presence. “At the moment, banks are just getting started with digitisation. Even banks that do not wish to move on will be told that it is too late if a new bank opens now. Customers will eventually depart, I believe. But, in my opinion, it is never too late; what matters is that we are prepared to confront the challenges that lie ahead,” he remarked.
This Blueprint is focused on five elements of banking digitalisation development which include:
- Data covering data protection, data transfer, and data governance.
- Technology that includes information technology governance, information technology architecture, and information technology adoption principles.
- Information technology risk management includes commercial bank cyber security and outsourcing.
- Collaboration that includes sharing platforms, bank collaboration in the digital ecosystem; and
- Institutional arrangements include funding support, leadership, organisational design, human resource talent, and culture.
These five elements are strategic approaches to encourage banks to develop innovative financial products and services that meet and exceed customer expectations. The Blueprint was developed by considering several factors, including future banking research, banking digitisation conditions, international standards, banking sector best practices, stakeholder involvement, and alignment with key authorities’ laws and regulations.
In addition, aspects of Balance and Neutral Technology are prioritised in this Blueprint. The Balance element aims to strike a balance between encouraging banking innovation while also paying attention to prudential issues to keep banking performance in a safe and sound state. The Technology Neutral element is used to be more flexible in the application of specific technologies to keep up with future advances.
Three main attributes are also presented in this Blueprint. The first step is to accept the Principle-Based idea. This Blueprint establishes guidelines in the form of guiding principles to allow the industry to grow. Second, it adopts a more facilitative approach. The third category is Living Documents. The Blueprint is dynamic, and it will be modified to reflect changes in the banking industry.
OJK’s commitment to promoting digital banking transformation as outlined in several policies before the release of the Blueprint for Digital Banking Transformation, including the Master Plan for the Indonesian Financial Services Sector 2021-2025 (MPSJKI) Pillar 3 and the Roadmap for Development of Indonesian Banking 2020-2025 (RP2I) Pillar 2. Encouraging banks to speed digital transformation while maintaining proper IT governance and risk management.
COVID-19 has highlighted the important work of the University’s researchers, and how their vital partnerships with government and industry can accelerate real-world outcomes. The University of Sydney announced that is part of the NSW Government’s announcement of a first-of-its-kind Australian pilot facility to develop mRNA and RNA drugs and vaccines to combat disease and save lives.
The $96 million facilities, to be established in partnership with all NSW universities, will include laboratories and pre-clinical trial spaces that will enable early-stage RNA-based drug development. This is a significant milestone in the creation of the RNA ecosystem and future R&D commercialisation, with academics playing a major role in driving developments here in NSW for decades to come. The pilot facility will commence subject to the approval of a final business case.
The region’s Premier stated that the State Government’s funding for the facility aims to attract commercial investment in mRNA and RNA production here in Australia. He noted that the COVID pandemic has demonstrated to the world that it is critically important that we can develop vaccines quickly and for the country to have sovereign capability. He added that the advent of mRNA vaccines and the crucial role they’ve played in getting NSW back on the road to a pandemic recovery is just the beginning of what this incredible emerging medical technology can do.
The University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal was delighted that the University of Sydney is a founding partner on the facility which supports local mRNA and RNA drug and vaccine development. The University will contribute its world-leading expertise and infrastructure to the development and analysis of RNA-based medicines for COVID-19 and a range of other medical conditions.
The Treasurer felt that the facility would be an investment in NSW’s position as a global force in medical research and therapeutics. Supporting the development of high-growth emerging industries such as RNA therapeutics allows the region to not only lead the way in the fight against disease but to boost productivity through innovation and create high-skilled jobs for the future.
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier said that the NSW government’s Accelerating R&D in NSW Action Plan will lead future industries and jobs by building strong partnerships between local universities & industry. The NSW government has already announced the formation of the NSW RNA Bioscience Alliance which brings together the best and brightest at the region’s leading universities and research institutes to advance RNA research, development and manufacturing.
The Convener of the NSW Vice-Chancellors’ Committee stated that the investment in the pilot facility is a significant signal that the NSW Government is considering a deeper investment in R&D capabilities that will, in turn, empower the pilot facility to become more commercially viable and attractive to industry investment.
The medical technology sector in Australia is worth $6.1 billion and employs over 36,000 people. Of these businesses, nearly 40 per cent are located in NSW; making the medical technology industry in NSW the largest in Australia. While the sector is growing, there are significant opportunities to accelerate this growth. It is estimated the medical technology industry has the potential to create an additional 28,000 jobs and $18 billion in the gross domestic product (GDP) nationally by 2025.
The NSW Department of Industry has consulted with medical technology stakeholders in the state to develop the NSW medical technology industry development strategy 2018. It consists of a set of five key strategy areas underpinned by initiatives to promote further growth and innovation in the industry. The strategy aims to:
- support industry in commercialising research and development
- grow exports and attract investment into the NSW medical technology sector
- support skills development
- improve connectivity and collaboration within the NSW medical technology industry
- improve the business environment.
The Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) pledged to continue collaborating to enhance agricultural research in the Philippines and the region.
In a statement, DOST-PCAARRD said it and ACIAR will continue to collaborate and explore new approaches to deliver agricultural research for development in the Philippines and the region for many years to come. The combined activities will help the Philippine government’s broader push to strengthen local scientific and technological leadership and competence in the agriculture, aquatic, and natural resources (AANR) sector.
Executive Director of the DOST-PCAARRD, greeted the Australian Deputy Ambassador and other embassy delegates, including an ACIAR representative. He said in his welcome note, “we are always honoured whenever the Embassy visits us because it shows how Australia values its partners; we, likewise, value such sentiment by continuously striving to conduct innovative research benefiting both countries.”
He stated that the Philippines and Australia’s bilateral relationship has been built on similar interests and principles, as well as strong people-to-people ties, over the years.
Furthermore, the Australian Deputy Ambassador expressed his admiration for the expanding collaboration between the ACIAR and the PCAARRD, while also expressing an interest in learning more about the DOST Council as an organisation. During his tenure, he reaffirmed his desire to continue to enhance bilateral ties between Australia and the Philippines.
In addition, the United States joined the Philippines in recognising the opening of the Crop Biotechnology Centre, which is housed in the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija. The facility was supported with a P277 million grant from the US Department of Agriculture’s Public Law 480 programme, which aims to help developing countries handle food security challenges.
It is said that the facility’s launch will improve the country’s agricultural biotechnology research and development initiatives. Acting Agricultural Counsellor, on behalf of US Embassy in the Philippines, said, “this cutting-edge centre will be the hub for Philippine research and development on critical areas in agricultural biotechnology” and its “top-notch equipment, from genome sequencers and genotyping equipment to high-throughput DNA extractors, will provide [Filipino] scientists with the tools they need to get the job done.”
OpenGov Asia in an article reported that according to the DOST Secretary, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has allocated over PHP208 million for the six virtual niche centres. In response to the government-led efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, we are establishing six new R&D centres in agriculture, livestock, and natural resources. These R&D centres will “open facilities, devise new strategies, and ramp up initiatives and efforts toward food resiliency in the new normal.
The DOST’s Niche Centres in the Regions for R&D (NICER) programme allows higher education institutions (HEIs) to significantly improve regional research by integrating development needs with existing R&D capabilities and resources.
The DOST provides institutional grants to HEIs in the regions through NICER for them to conduct high-quality research that will catalyse and promote regional development and industrial competitiveness.
Ultimately, the industry is working to enhance the country’s semiconductor and electronics manufacturing index by identifying customer needs, understanding suppliers’ baselines, developing relevant capabilities, matching industry supply and demand, and conducting periodic performance assessments. Furthermore, the industry suggests that the government maintain its scholarship programme for operators and technicians, improve the country’s business environment, conduct R&D capability development, and aggressively promote local industries and SMEs through investment missions abroad.
Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) is approaching 20 years of driving innovation and is revealing a vision for the next stage of its innovation journey to spark new impetus in I&T and propel a new era of growth for Hong Kong. The goal is to elevate Hong Kong’s world-class I&T status based on a wave of GBA opportunities, Re-industrialisation and next-generation talent.
The unveiled new roadmap will help realise the government mission to establish world-class I&T as a pillar of Hong Kong’s next era of economic success. The CEO of HKSTP stated that the new vision will capture emerging GBA opportunities to ensure innovation translates to success, spark a future of revitalised industries and new industries, while also developing the critical skills and talent for tomorrow.
To meet new GBA growth opportunities, HKSTP is expanding its infrastructure and eco-system deeper into the GBA to accelerate region-wide development. This critical next step will unlock potential for tech ventures as they go global and also attract foreign talent and investment into the region and across Asia.
Together with the Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Zone (Shenzhen I&T Zone), this strategy will further promote I&T collaboration between Hong Kong and Shenzhen. HKSTP will capture the opportunities presented by the 14th Five-Year Plan and support the government’s drive, which reinforces the foundations for Hong Kong to become an international I&T hub. HKSTP has also established its “GBA InnoExpress” and “GBA InnoAcademy” programs to nurture start-ups, talent, provide business development and investment matching support to I&T enterprises.
HKSTP INNOPARK to spark “Innofacturing Tomorrow”
The next core component of the vision is to maximise Hong Kong’s huge R&D potential through Re-industrialisation. HKSTP is repositioning the city’s iconic industrial estates as the newly-branded “INNOPARK” in Yuen Long, Tai Po and Tseung Kwan O to fuel high-potential sectors like advanced manufacturing.
The INNOPARK will help industrialists and pioneers accelerate their research into innovation-driven manufacturing or ‘innofacturing’ and market-ready offerings in areas like advanced manufacturing. HKSTP has established eight re-industrialisation guiding principles to enable I&T-driven manufacturing.
These include output as to economic value-add contribution; investment in capital expenditure for equipment together with fit-out or building construction; high-skilled employment creation; advanced technology content or novel application in products or services; advanced process applied in the manufacturing of products or delivery of services; R&D activities and capabilities; local consumption for a stable supply chain; sustainability in terms of business, environment or resources.
The ultimate impact is three-fold: transformative INNOPARK to develop new industry and drive Hong Kong’s economic growth; transfer “made in Hong Kong” into “Innofacture in Hong Kong” and reinforce Hong Kong pride in areas like advanced manufacturing; plus create future career opportunities for the younger generation through new higher-value skills and roles. The transformation of industries will also see demand for skillsets in deep-tech segments like AI, robotics, biotech, fintech, data analytics.
Nurturing talent for the next-gen workforce
HKSTP believes talent is Hong Kong’s innovation imperative to fuel growth in the digital economy. HKSTP is assuming a strategic approach to deliver the next generation of innovators and technology pioneers.
This will create leaders, deep-tech talents and grass-roots skills to ensure a thriving talent ecosystem at all levels. The programs in place to drive this include the two-way cross-border GBA InnoAcademy and GBA InnoExpress programs to develop high-quality talent across the region.
HKSTP is also supporting the scientific and research communities with vital commercial skills that will set them up for future success. The “HKSTP Institute for Translational Research” (ITR) is being established this month in October to promote research-based entrepreneurship, equip researchers and scientists with the entrepreneurial skills they need to transform promising research into action and impactful innovation. ITR also aims to expedite the often-lengthy translation of biomedical technologies into genuine benefit for the public and ultimately establish Hong Kong as a preeminent hub for translational research and development.
HKSTP is investing heavily into partnerships and collaboration to maximise the power of integration in driving seamless cross-border, cross-industry, cross-community engagement. HKSTP is committed to creating a world-class hub where talent flourishes, where innovations are found and where the future is created, for Hong Kong and the world.