Technology & Innovation

Adapting to the remote norm: imbalances in work-life and cybersecurity equations

April 21, 2021

Asia

Adapting to the remote norm

April 21, 2021

Asia
Jason Wincuinas
Editor, The Economist Intelligence Unit

Based in Hong Kong, Jason is a senior editor of thought leadership research for Asia. He covers the region from Australia to India but has a background of business in China and Hong Kong. 

A Boston native, Jason has worked and travelled in Asia since the 1990s, settling permanently in Hong Kong since 2009. Before joining the Economist Group he was managing editor for Campaign Asia, covering all aspects of the marketing industry—from the implementation of technology to ad creative, to consumer research.

Prior to that, Jason's professional focus was in finance and technology, working in both investment and engineering firms. He also spent a decade of his career heading a manufacturing and import company, bringing goods from China’s factories to the US retail market. Some of his most formative work has been as a freelance writer and stay-at-home dad.   

Jason received a BA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with study at the University of Sheffield in Yorkshire, UK. 

Through interviews with CxOs across Asia, The Economist Intelligence Unit examines remote work and cybersecurity challenges that covid-19 has brought to the competitive landscape.

With the covid-19 pandemic far from over, its long-term impact is still a source of uncertainty for businesses in 2021. One outcome that looks set to last, however, is the shift to remote work.

Broadly, remote work seems to have been a net positive for Asia’s businesses, resulting in greater feelings of autonomy among staff and, in some cases say our interviewed CxOs, boosting productivity. At the same time, remote work has posed a challenge for IT departments as they scrambled to accommodate workflow while securing systems. This dynamic has forced companies to adapt and modernise more rapidly than they might otherwise have under normal circumstances, which could also prove positive in the long run. Another upside may be increased awareness of cyber attacks beyond IT departments. Some argue covid-19 has spurred companies to become more rigorous in combating threats, which are growing along with technology’s sophistication and influence, a condition that would have been true with or without the pandemic.

According to figures published in The Economist, “before the pandemic only 3% of Americans worked from home regularly.”1 As of December 2020, a study2 from Upwork, an online jobs board, suggested that number has reached just over 40%. In Asia, the pandemic hit sooner but perhaps not as hard as in America, and the percentage of people working remotely can vary greatly from country to country. But with many of the multinational corporations active in the region, remote work may prove to be even more persistent than in the West. Many firms, particularly in the financial-services sector, already spread operations across jurisdictions from Mumbai to Melbourne. To gain a deeper understanding of how the trend is affecting Asia’s companies, The Economist Intelligence Unit spoke with regional C-suites. The goal was to find gaps in perspectives between IT and non-IT leadership. Instead, views have come out closely aligned from the CEO to the CIO.

David Blecken was the author of the report and Jason Wincuinas was the editor. Additional insights for this article were obtained from in-depth interviews with experts. Our thanks are due to the following individuals:

  • Jihong He, chief corporate strategy officer and data centre chief executive, CapitaLand
  • Ratan Jyoti, chief information security officer, Ujjivan Financial Services
  • Wong Sze Keed, chief executive officer, AIA Singapore
  • Simeon Preston, chief operating officer ASEAN, FWD Life
  • Sami Yalavac, chief information officer Australia and New Zealand, Bupa

1. “Is the office finished?”, The Economist, September 12th, 2020, https://www.economist.com/leaders/2020/09/12/is-the-office-finished 
2. “Economist Report: Future Workforce” https://www.upwork.com/press/releases/economist-report-future-workforce

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