Workplace Culture

Large Operators To Dominate Flexible Office Market

19 January 2023

Workthere said smaller brands will likely be acquired by large operators as competition in the market intensifies.

High demand is considered positive news for most players in any market; however, for small operators of flexible office spaces, that is not the case. When demand rises, so do rents, and according to real estate service provider, Workthere, small operators cannot cope well with such a situation.

“Smaller operators have been reducing their real estate footprint in response to rising rents,” Ashley Swan, executive director of Commercial Leasing & Workthere, told Singapore Business Review.

Swan added that, unlike larger operators, small brands are unable to sacrifice some probability to offer incentives such as rent-free months to spur sales. With competition in the market expected to further tighten in 2023, Swan said smaller operators will likely be acquired, and the market will be dominated by larger brands.

“As competition intensifies, we will see greater consolidation,” he said.

“Flexible working spaces have lost their novelty compared to when WeWork first made inroads into Singapore. There are now many large coworking operators in Singapore, and we foresee stronger competition between them,” he added.

Creating An Attractive Space

For operators to keep their spaces attractive, Swan said they can study what their users and clients prefer. Observing Workthere’s clientele, Swan said there is a general preference amongst users for window units, but not necessarily on the specific numbers of tables available since they generally can customise table arrangements in their units. Swan said a lot of freelancers who are financial consultants or insurance agents who travel frequently use flexible spaces.

“Seniority-wise, they run the full gamut, from freelancers and entry-level employees to managers and directors,” he said.

In terms of age, those using coworking spaces are mainly in their 20s to 40s. Meanwhile, large companies and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) renting out flexible spaces also look for bonus inclusions with their units, such as built-in manager cabins and sound-proof meeting rooms. Based on Workthere’s Flexmark 3.0 research report, there are five most-demand features of flexible spaces: phone booths (26%), internal meeting rooms (18%), extra passes for office space (17%), collaboration space (13%), and standing desks (10%). Swan, however, underscored that the perfect flexible workspace still boils down to the “specific needs of the clients.”

“Some prefer ‘no frills’ units to keep costs low while others favour ‘best bang for the buck’ deals while looking to maximise the number of rental inclusion,” he said.

“Successful operators will also be the ones that can differentiate themselves by offering more creative rental inclusions and developing a unique style that is tied to their brand, whether in terms of the fittings and vibe of the space, customer service or backend support, etcetera,” he added.

5X Capital Acquires Stake In Colony Coworking Space To Capitalise On Booming Flexible Workspace Market

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17 January 2023

5X Capital, a private equity fund with a diverse portfolio of companies including BFM Radio and Vida has acquired a stake in Colony Coworking Space.

Colony Coworking Space, which currently operates 12 locations in Kuala Lumpur between its namesake brand and its mass-market brand Jerry, has a total footprint of 170,000 square feet in Kuala Lumpur. The group’s revenue grew 74% in 2022 and EBITDA grew by 265% year-on-year to an all-time high.

With this strategic investment, 5X Capital is looking to capitalise on the growing Flexible Workspace Market in Malaysia by investing in one of the largest Coworking operators in the country.

“We feel privileged to be invested into Colony, a team whose offering we love, has great execution and business acumen. This is an incredible opportunity and we will meaningfully support them for greater growth,” said a representative of 5X Capital. “Their success in being one of the few profitable coworking operators in the industry is a testament to the company’s strong brand and execution”.

“Colony has always been about sustainable growth: Growing while maintaining a minimum of being EBITDA neutral so we don’t burn cash. With that we find 5X Capital as partners that are aligned with our goal of sustainable growth,” said Timothy Tiah, CEO of Colony Coworking Space. “Their experience and resources will be invaluable as we continue to expand and meet the growing demand for coworking spaces in the region.”

Colony earlier this month also announced a new deal with property developer Sunsuria Berhad to open a new Colony in Sunsuria Forum at Setia Alam.

The Key to Employee Satisfaction: A Better Salary or Flexible Benefits?

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6 January 2023

Clarence Zhang, Co-founder and Country Manager for Malaysia Mednefits

Employees are always motivated to stay in companies that best fit their career goals and offer the best employment packages. But between employee benefits and salary, which one brings more satisfaction to employees? To find out more about this as well as the key differences between how employees perceive the two, DigitalCFO Asia spoke with Clarence Zhang, Co-founder and Country Manager for Malaysia Mednefits  to get his insights on the topic. 

Global Shift In Medical Priorities For Employees In 2022

In 2022, the talent market continues to be challenged by the enduring after effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising healthcare costs that outpace inflation. According to the 2022 Employee Benefits Trend Report published by Mednefits, medical benefits are seen as an additional cost by 3 out of every 10 businesses. At the same time, we see an increasing proportion of SMEs view benefits as a way to generate greater employee engagement, and are starting to pivot away from just seeing benefits as a mere means of medical coverage policies. 

In 2022, we all know of The Great Resignation phenomenon where companies struggle to retain employees and attract new talents. Topics surrounding employee benefits, engagement and general welfare began to surface and became the mainstay in discussions between HR personnels and bosses. 

“There has also been a significant shift in employees’ needs, with a preference for non-medical needs on top of just basic hospitalisation and GP coverage,” says Clarence Zhang, Co-founder and Country Manager for Malaysia Mednefits

This alludes to the inherent limitation of the traditional benefits model which is evidently unable to keep up with the changing demands of today’s workforce. 

Salary Increments In 2023

“With the current economic outlook being highly uncertain, and many speculations of an upcoming worldwide recession, there has undoubtedly been a correction of talent flow within the labour market,” says Clarence Zhang, Co-founder and Country Manager for Malaysia Mednefits.

Salary increment is highly dependent on the job market performance, which will differ for each company in different industries, in the respective countries. Companies might find themselves considering other forms of compensation other than salary increments, such as an increase in the benefits package for employees. 

After all, flexible benefits are gains or profits, which could be monetary or non-monetary (but largely monetary), that an employee benefits from during employment. Therefore, this posits that there are still a lot of creative ways that a company can engage in to show that they genuinely care and wish to take care of their employees. 

If employees were to acknowledge and consider the increase in benefits as an aggregated increase in their monthly compensation, then it is likely that we will see salary increments rise to pre-pandemic levels in 2023 in well-performing industries because they will be finding all ways to attract and retain the best talents out there amidst a labour market that is experiencing a correction.  

Flexible Benefit Programmes To Retain Employees In The Long Run

There is an increase in demand by corporations for onsite events, as we’ve seen spending increase by 2 folds within the last 6 months. The proportion of SMEs viewing flexible benefits as a way to generate greater employee engagement is 49%, which is not very far off from the 60% we see in MNCs. 

Examples of such events or programmes include Health Screening, Optical Screening, Yoga programmes, Group Fitness Classes, and Health Talks (Topics range from within the Traditional Chinese Medicine realm, to Specialist education to better manage chronic diseases). For companies with a younger workforce demographic, we see financial literacy talks, breathing seminars, and mental wellness workshops being conducted as well. 

However, in order to better retain employees in the long run, companies need to consider more than just wellness-related onsite events and programmes. A flexible benefits package for employees should always be dynamic simply because the needs of employees differ based on age, lifestyle, lifecycle, job scope, etc. As such, corporate wellness programmes should only at best be considered as a cherry on top of the cake if the company has extra budget.

 Individualised Benefits In Improving A Company’s Financial Health

“The idea of providing individualised benefits to employees means that the benefits package is largely personalised for the employee to best suit his needs, which increases the benefits relevancy to him,” says Clarence Zhang, Co-founder and Country Manager for Malaysia Mednefits

Although this leads to an outcome that is seemingly contrary to what employers want – employees end up utilising more of their benefits and costing the company even more, what is happening here is the promotion of shared responsibility of a budget between employee and employer. This essentially shifts the control of budget from employer ONLY to employee AND employer. 

Shared responsibility is an ideal state, and clearly a superior solution for companies that deem MC abuse as a detriment to the company’s financial health. In the long run, the company will get employees who fall sick less often, are more proactively using the company’s allocated budget fully and become more productive and happy at work. This would translate to increased output for the company and is ultimately the most sustainable way to improve the company’s financial health. 

Make Your Corporate Christmas Party More Exciting!

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Fatihah Ramzi, DigitalCFO Asia | 13 December 2022

In the interior dynamics of a company, it can be a challenge to make an interesting Holiday Christmas party to celebrate the end of the year.

Holiday’s season beckons a day of family, relaxation and time spent among the company of friends. However, in the interior dynamics of a company, it can be a challenge to make an interesting Holiday Christmas party to match that kind of energy. It is the goal of any good team to create a fun and fulfilling Christmas party that can galvanize a sense of kinship among their coworkers and provide an outlet to relax in the closing edges of a long working year. Of course, extravagance doesn’t always mean fun and Christmas aficionados may feel more justified to more quirkier decisions that can wind up to be more enjoyable than a fine-dining experience. Here are six ways CFOs can make the yearly Corporate Christmas Party more fun for the finance team!


1. Christmas Tree Decoration Competition

The department competition is a staple of any holiday season and is a tried-and-true method of creating a festive mood between coworkers. It could be done by informing teams beforehand to bring ornaments and decorations to prepare their tree or by having them create as unique a theme as possible using random objects. Either way, it would be a fun creative activity that would amuse the judges and coworkers alike. As an added bonus, you can keep the winning Christmas tree for next year and create a new office tradition.

2. Ugly Sweater Station

We’re always dressed to impress, in whatever environment or situation we are in, there is no one who doesn’t want to look their best. But the Holidays have a unique way of smashing away things that can get in the way of fun and an ugly sweater competition is always a good choice. What a laugh it would be if the always well-dressed Jane or Tom suddenly comes to work in a god-awful red and green reindeer sweater that matches with their pants as well as a raccoon in a dress. It’s an activity that brings people together by shared hilarity.

3. Secret Desk Santa

Secret Santa’s are almost always synonymous with Christmas work parties but what about a Secret Desk Santa? During the party you get selected to decorate one of your coworkers desks however you want to. It’s a fun activity that is matched by the same thrill that comes with secret Santa. What will your desk look like? Can you guess who decorated your desk like that? Will it look nice or would it be a prank? It’s an old concept given new depth. A feeling of expectation and surprise that can spur out laughs among people who may never have interacted before. It can also lead to new office jokes and moments to be remembered forever.

4. Snowman Hide & Seek

Inspired by the Office Scavenger Hunt idea, Snowman Hide & Seek have you hiding snowmen all throughout the office for your coworkers to find. Each snowman found can be used to redeem a seasonal prize for the prize station or, if you want to add competition into the mix, you can instead use the snowmen as currency to exchange with prizes listed at the station. It’s a fun way to explore the office space and find unknown locations in search of the elusive snowmen. Imagine the fun when two coworkers find a snowman together and have to decide who gets to leave with the bounty – it’s priceless fun that will bring coworkers who may never have met closer together. 

5. DIY Edible Crafts

Most Office parties will have a snack table or a sweet table as a given for Christmas Office Parties. So, why not make it part of the fun activities? Enter a DIY Edible Crafts table where plain cookies, gingerbread men and houses will be left for staff to decorate as they please. Coworkers gushing about how well they’ve managed to decorate their cookies, people laughing at abortive attempts at cute designs and a general relaxed atmosphere as they enjoy flexing their creativity with the all important sweets to fill their sugary needs. It’s a plan that cannot fail and will surely be remembered fondly by everyone who participates.

6. Polaroid Extravaganza

Every Holiday season comes with a photo booth for coworkers to get together and take fun pictures together. These are all well and good, but what about putting the camera into the hands of your coworkers? Let coworkers have free reign over a few polaroid cameras to take instant pictures with and share around the office space. Let them create the pictures they want to see outside of a green screen background or prepared picture decorations. Then you can collect the polaroid pictures and display them on a festive themed wall for everyone’s viewing or let them keep the photos for themselves.


These are just some of the ways CFOs can create a festive Christmas Holiday mood that may stray from the traditional Dinner and Dance that most companies do. Simple, easy to do and a great time for staff who themselves are preparing for their own personal Holiday parties with family and friends. They’re the perfect activities or an office or work space to unwind from a long year and get ready for the next.


Singaporeans Would Quit Their Jobs If There’s No Hybrid Work

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DigitalCFO Newsroom | 13 December 2022

3 out of 4 employees believe that their companies are not equipped for the future of hybrid work in the long run due to the lack of support in terms of company culture and access to technology and collaborative platforms. 

62% – That is the number of employees in APAC who are less inclined to quit their jobs because they have the freedom to practice hybrid work. They are happier, more motivated, less stressed and are more likely to build better relationships with their colleagues. 

The only problem is that 3 out of 4 employees believe that their companies are not equipped for the future of hybrid work in the long run due to the lack of support in terms of company culture and access to technology and collaborative platforms. 

So, how can organisations foster an optimal hybrid working environment? By creating workspaces that people actually want to work in, regardless if employees are at home or in the office. 

Focused on user-first and inclusive designs for the workplace and home, Flokk is the leading furniture manufacturer in Europe that has worked with companies like Great Eastern Life in Singapore to create innovative, decentralised workspaces for increased collaboration. 

The company believes in three key types of workspaces that will help companies stay agile in the future of work: The Office, The Home and The Hub. 

The Office Reimagined

With hybrid arrangements, the reasons why an employee comes into a physical office changes from a place of everyday work to a space for in-person meetings and communal socialisation. And organisations must rethink how it can enhance these in-person experiences. 

This can mean switching out assigned desks for “neighbourhoods” that are customised to the needs of each team, offering formal and informal areas to encourage creative discussions and dialogues. Adding different colour schemes and team-related pinboards can enhance an employee’s sense of belonging without the need for a permanent workstation.

The Home Office

Working from home has provided employees with greater flexibility over their day and removed stress and expenses from their daily commute. Creating a sustainable home workspace relies on understanding what types of work are best performed when working remotely, and constructing an environment to best support those tasks.  

Companies implementing a long-term work from home regime should assess the ergonomic risks of their employee’s home workspaces. This includes equipment such as an office chair, one of the most important tools an employee will use. Choosing intuitive designs with easy to use features becomes paramount in ensuring employee safety and comfort at home or at the office.

The Hub

With the freedom of hybrid work still preferred, going to the office full-time is definitely not the first-choice. But this is where collaborative work happens, and niche co-working spaces that meet the various needs of companies and employees are key to that.

With the wide availability of co-working spaces that offer flexible leases with short-term or daily workstations, this allows organisations to reduce cost and be able to hire employees all over the world. And at the same time, it can provide employees access to collaboration tools within their local vicinity. 

“Flexibility in how employees want to work has never been more important, and how businesses will be able to provide this flexibility will be crucial not only for retaining talent, but also keeping employees healthy, happy and productive.” said Chiraag Sehvani, Head of Retail, Flokk Asia.

The new hybrid workspace is a big challenge for organisations when it comes to reimagining their physical spaces. But it should be treated as a golden opportunity to reap the benefits from both sides. 


12 Work Trends To Keep An Eye Out For In 2023

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DigitalCFO Newsroom | 13 December 2022

As flexible working arrangements continue to be a focus, organizations should pay attention to the latest Future of Work trends that could determine the effectiveness of their strategies to attract, retain and secure quality talent in a tightening labor market.

The Great Resignation” and “Quiet Quitting” were the talk of the workplace off and online in 2021 and 2022, but what could 2023 hold when it comes to workplace vernacular? At Deel, we know a thing or two regarding work trends to watch out for. After all, we’ve onboarded with over 100,000 employees and contractors worldwide via our platform.

2022 saw a shift in the way we perceive the role of work and the importance of work-life balance – with more employees seeking flexible work arrangements such as fixed off-site days, 4-day work weeks, or flexible hours that empowers them to pursue their desired lifestyle and needs. As organizations continue to find the sweet spot between organization efficiency and employee expectations amid the hybrid work era, we’ve combed the internet, contacted contractors, and polled some people to compile 12 trends to look out for in the coming year:  

  1. Overemployed (by choice)

Remote workers are gaming the system by using flexible hours and asynchronous tools to juggle more than one job at the same time. For them it’s all work, more pay.

  1. A Chief Remote Officer

With remote work on the rise and here to stay, the title of CRO is popping up on job boards everywhere. Most job descriptions entail all the elements around remote team set-ups, including hosting in person events, how to work in different timezones, comp strategies, and internal comms tools.

  1. Workcation

Work while traveling the globe? Well it’s now a reality and more often than not, seeming to become the norm. New tools like Deel are enabling people to not only work from their couch, but even those gorgeous huts on the water in the Maldives.

  1. Flex Holidays

Not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving, and with more and more companies embracing distributed work, teams are leaning into the idea of flexible holidays. More workers are getting the power to decide what holidays they take off instead of a one size fits all calendar. After all, global teams are, well, global.

  1. Gen Flex

The latest generation entering the workforce is having one of the most unique experiences in decades. While some entered during a recession, the latest generation has never even stepped foot in an office for work. Virtual work is…well, their reality.

  1. Flexetariat

Today’s workforce is putting flexibility and freedom at the top of their working requirements (and life). Now more than ever teams are trading perks for the non-negotiable of being a Flexetariat.

  1. Talent Snatching – Another day, another offer letter

In the midst of ongoing layoffs, one interesting trend is bubbling up. A bidding war for talent. Some workers are finding themselves working at one company for only a few months before getting a more appealing offer elsewhere, oftentimes out of nowhere. Talent Snatching can be savage, but competitive offers sure do have their benefits.

  1. Sukima – extra time is extra money

In Japan, Sukima is something young people are embracing. They’re turning free time into extra cash with new apps, such as Jobcase, Timee and LINE Sukimani,  that help match them with jobs like waiting tables or making deliveries, so there’s no time wasted; just money earned.

  1. Casual E-Signatures

With apps like BeReal on the rise, Gen Zers are skipping the pleasantries for more… “authentic” sign offs and OOO replies. There’s been an influx of language like, “Lukewarm regards;” “Another day, another slay;” and “In case of emergency, dial 911; not an emergency, try Google.”

  1. Pick-up Parties – There’s a new type of tupperware party in town

Since less people are working from offices and together less IRL, people are finding new ways to connect at in-person brand events called Pick-up Parties. You order a product and instead of it being delivered to your home you collect it from an in person party event where you meet other like minded purchasers.

  1. Career Bouncing

Slightly different from salary bouncing (jumping from job to job in under a year to increase salary with each jump) – moving from one career to another, i.e teacher to marketer, to determine which career is preferable.

  1. Save-from-home

In a survey with Momentive Deel found that people are saving more than ever thanks to things like reduced travel, food expenses, and increased salaries. More than 59% have increased their salaries and 64% say they’ve increased their savings while working from home.


End Of Year Employee Wellness Program

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Fatihah Ramzi, DigitalCFO Asia | 29 November 2022

As the year draws to a close, it is critical that companies spend the time educating staff members about how to prevent the spread of diseases and urge them to get the necessary shots.

As the year draws to a close, it is critical that companies spend the time educating staff members about how to prevent the spread of diseases and urge them to get a flu shot, the COVID-19 vaccination, and booster dose in order to be prepared for the new year. With vaccines and flu shots, the company may see a decrease in employee absence, which eventually boosts productivity rates as fewer employees end up needing to take extended leaves of absence.

Employers have a responsibility to do their share to stop the transmission of disease in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the upcoming flu season. In addition to wanting a healthy workforce, employers must continue to ease the burden on the healthcare system. Because of this, a focus on employees’ health would be one of the most important employee wellness initiatives that businesses could provide.

Employers should motivate staff to finish preventative checks. When it comes to leading a healthy life, prevention is essential because early identification frequently results in effective treatment. Many workers may have put off going to their primary care physician and getting routine care as a result of COVID-19. Encourage your staff to arrange for their yearly physicals, mammograms, colonoscopies, and other standard exams right away. A smart strategy to remain on top of general health issues and risks for chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes is to see your doctor once a year.

Encourage them to consider their wellness objectives for 2023. Employers should be sure to include their workplace wellness goals and strategies while developing their company strategy for 2023. To make sure that these objectives are accomplished, think about establishing a wellness committee within the company. The committee will be able to assess the team’s requirements and create a wellness plan that best meets those requirements. Your employees will have happier and healthier lives if you plan wellness challenges, encourage healthier eating, and offer resources. This will also increase employee happiness at work.

A wellness challenge can also be added by businesses during the holidays. It’s simple to get caught up in the Christmas rush and bustle, which can have a detrimental effect on our health. People frequently endure improper stress management and unhealthy or excessive eating, so it might be a good idea to advocate for exercise, healthy food, or stress reduction measures during this time. 

One approach to achieve this might be by creating a challenge that focuses on one of the aforementioned subjects. To ensure that the challenge is on everyone’s mind, let the employees know about it and keep promoting it throughout the season. Consider an incentive-based challenge with prizes connected to health and wellness to encourage the team and get them participating.

Make resources for mental health available. To raise awareness of mental health during the holidays, companies can consider hosting a seminar. Employees frequently forget about the resources at their disposal or are unaware of their coverage. If it’s feasible, think about doing a virtual yoga or meditation class to make sure that staff members are allocating time for their own self-care. Do not forget to inform, assist, and serve as a resource for the team.

Companies may also think about running a biometric screening program. As the end of the year approaches, many people frequently prefer to put their health on the back burner. Offering biometric assessments to employees either on-site or off-site can assist them in understanding their baseline health and any potential problem areas.  Biometric screenings can convey to your employees that you care about their health and welfare by serving as a reminder to not let the efforts toward better health slip up.

Promote a fundraising occasion or activity. Since it’s the season of giving, many workers may want to volunteer but find it difficult to find the time or are unsure of where to begin. Think about a charitable opportunity they might participate in to lessen this burden. Employees will gain an appreciation for the company’s principles and have the opportunity to volunteer together.

Overall, one of your company’s end-of-year focuses should be workplace wellness. The primary driver of both production and employee happiness will be their well-being. Giving them materials they can use in their daily lives is the best approach to give them the sense of value and appreciation they need.


Regulatory Challenges Businesses Faced In 2022

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Fatihah Ramzi, DigitalCFO Asia | 29 November 2022

The three most significant problems that organizations have encountered in the year.

The difficulties faced by business owners never cease. To keep their businesses afloat and relevant to the situation of the market, they are always forced to come up with new strategies. The difficulties facing entrepreneurs in 2022 are considerably larger. Despite the pandemic’s slow economic recovery, it will take some time for businesses to fully bounce back. Numerous organizations continue to face challenges, including those related to recruitment, finances, and digital transformation.

However, business entrepreneurs have always been renowned for their tenacity and ability to consistently find solutions to any problems that arise. This is true whether we’re discussing businesses that are just getting started or ones that have been operating for a while. But what are some of the most urgent issues that entrepreneurs will deal with in 2022? In this post, we’ll take a look at the three most significant problems that organizations have encountered in the year.


1. Fairness & Inclusion 

Many businesses are being forced to increase their commitments to corporate social responsibility with an emphasis on equality and justice for underserved communities as a result of pressure from activist investors, the general public, and their own employees. Over the past two years, fairness issues have gone beyond DEI.

Through the use of regulations intended to eliminate unfair advantages in personnel decisions, businesses have historically attempted to promote fairness. To prevent hiring managers from judging candidates based on their supposed gender or race, recruiters, for instance, remove the prospects’ photographs from their resumes. To prevent employees from being paid more or less than their coworkers at the same level, a business may also establish stringent pay bands.

These regulations can reduce unfairness, but they are insufficient to produce a very fair working environment. And when employers paid more attention to where workers felt injustice occurred, they discovered that hiring, promotion, and pay accounted for only 25% of this view. The majority of these encounters take place during regular work hours. Organizations require new ideas, not simply rules, to handle these increasingly ubiquitous fairness concerns. Instead of eliminating unjust advantages, they ought to look for ways to lessen disadvantages so that most or all of the workforce benefits.

2. Climate & Sustainability

Simply put, many species won’t live through the 21st century if businesses do not behave responsibly as members of the global community. According to Environmental Sustainability, the rate of species extinction due to human activity now is hundreds of times higher than it was originally.

Given that corporations account for the majority of global emissions, sustainability has thus become a crucial problem for them. This is why companies will inevitably foster a dying planet if they do not contribute to the solution. The “Race to Zero” campaign, which aims to take strict and urgent action to halve global emissions by 2030 and deliver a healthier, fairer zero carbon world in time, has forced many businesses to make organizational changes in 2022 to implement effective sustainability strategy and initiatives.

In the long term, investors, clients, and consumers may be less eager to support businesses that do not make sustainable decisions in their processes. Sustainability must be prioritized if the company hopes to stay relevant in the long run.

3. Fraud & Financial Crimes 

As the globe recovered from COVID-19, criminals adapted and took advantage of possibilities. In 2022, supply chains are still disrupted, fraud is rising, ransomware assaults are commonplace, and digital payment systems are still under constant attack. The year also saw an increase in the amount of data breaches.

Among the most frequent outside offenders are hacker groups and organized crime networks. In the past two years, their activity significantly increased. With objectives, rewards, and bonus schemes, organized crime organizations are evolving to become more specialized and professional. Additionally, malicious actors are banding together, which raises the frequency and level of sophistication of attacks. Specialists in data breach, false ID creation, attack methods, and other complex areas may connect, coordinate, and transact inside a developing criminal economy thanks to chat rooms, the dark web, and cryptocurrency.

The use of new technology by businesses is widespread. Digital platforms like social media, services (like ridesharing or accommodation), and e-commerce provide hazards for fraud and economic crime that most businesses are only now starting to recognize. Four out of five businesses that experienced fraud in the past two years have a connection to the digital platforms they use. Undoubtedly, the pandemic increased vulnerability as organizations expedited the shift to digital operations; as a result, 2022 was a year in which many firms placed a high priority on cyber security activities.


In 2023, it is likely that these issues will still persist, but there will also be a new set of priorities. This is a result of the ongoing worldwide economic situation. The effects of high inflation and geopolitical concerns would be further issues of focus in 2023. In the face of unfavorable uncertainty, it is preferable for firms to maintain their flexibility and adaptability. Businesses should make continual infrastructure investments as 2022 draws to a close.


35 Filipino Companies Honored as Best Companies to Work for in Asia 2022

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DigitalCFO Newsroom | 29 November 2022

35 companies in the Philippines received the coveted HR Asia Best Companies to Work for in Asia 2022 awards.

With the theme, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the awards this year focused on the efforts of companies in promoting diversity and inculcating inclusion in the workplace, while retaining HR Asia’s stringent evaluation criteria.

In all, 11,800 employees from 185 Filipino companies took part in HR Asia’s proprietary Total Engagement Assessment Model – ranking their own employers on metrics ranging from workplace happiness and team cohesion to employee advocacy and continued job motivation. The top 35 companies who made the cut off point this year are then named HR Asia Best Companies to work for in Asia 2022 for the Filipino market.

“HR Asia Best Companies to Work for in Asia is the only award that is judged solely by the nominees’ employees – making this the most transparent award of its kind. Equally important, with 15 markets, and over 400,000 surveys done each year – the program is also the most extensive awards for employee engagement and workplace excellence across the region”, says William Ng, group publisher of Business Media International, the owner of HR Asia.

The top three workplace positive sentiments by Filipino employees are that employees are willing to help those who require assistance, the employees also believe that their job contributes to the success of their organization, and employees are willing to put in the extra effort to achieve the goals and objectives of the organization.

However, the survey has also turned up several concerns from employees, such as lack of communication with former employees, feeling exhausted at work due to the workload, and the lack of enthusiasm to return to work after the weekend.

This year, two companies are awarded the gold Harmonia statuette as they are recognized to be one of the Best Companies to Work for in Asia for five consecutive years, these companies are Monocrete Construction Philippines, Inc., and Puregold Price Club, Inc.

The WeCare awards are also given out to Cloudstaff Modern Workforce, Everise Philippines, Fedex Express Philippines, Monocrete Construction Philippines, Inc., Torre Lorenzo Development Corporation, and United Coconut Planters Life Assurance Corporation (Cocolife).

2022 Philippines HR Asia Best Companies to Work for in Asia credits Yo Manila! as the award’s supporting partner.

“The pandemic has placed extraordinary demands on business leaders and beyond. For some companies, a near term survival plan may seem to be the only agenda for recovery but by investing in employee engagement, employees will feel supported in their jobs and in return will contribute to the overall business operations and post recovery growth,” Ng added.

The HR Asia Best Companies to Work for in Asia Awards recognises companies that have shown world-class employee engagement and workplace excellence, while displaying demonstrable empathy and care for their employees.

The award covers fifteen markets across the region including mainland China, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Japan, Korea, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam making this the largest recognition programme and survey in the region for employee engagement.


APAC’s New Distributed Workforce Economy

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Fatihah Ramzi, DigitalCFO Asia | 14 November 2022

Pedro Barros, VP of Finance at Remote

The advantages and disadvantages of remote work were already being discussed before COVID-19. Although some businesses had already created their organizations with purely remote work in mind, many others remained wary. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, organizations that had not previously permitted flexible working arrangements were forced to quickly put up their remote working infrastructure, both technologically and culturally, in order to maintain operations.

Companies should build upon this new standard rather than revert to their antiquated ways since so much rigor and work went into refining remote working during that time. In many ways, businesses must accept this new standard because failing to do so will probably result in them losing their employees to other companies.

Remote is a company that believes in global talent employment and seeks to unveil the world of remote work for every person, business, and country. With over 900 internal employees, their entire team works remotely in their chosen locations around the world; passionate about what a game-changer it has been.

To find out more about remote work, DigitalCFO Asia spoke with Pedro Barros, VP of Finance at Remote.

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2022 Workforce Challenges In APAC

The ‘forced remote’ of the pandemic is now giving way to a permanent shift to flexible, remote work. Some companies are already there, but the transition could be challenging for some companies to navigate. The change is being driven in part by employees who have higher expectations for independence and flexibility. In Remote’s newest Global Benefits Report, people ranked flexibility as one of their most important employment benefits – and workers who are already remote actually ranked flexibility as more important than compensation. 

However, it is also being driven by companies that have discovered that remote work offers significant competitive advantages. They can tap into a much wider talent pool, especially for hard-to-fill roles. They can build a more diverse and inclusive workforce. They can achieve global coverage in servicing clients. All of these factors mean that remote work is becoming more than just a convenience. It is a way for innovative companies to attract and retain talent, and compete and win on a global level. Those who are unable to evolve as quickly as their competitors could end up being left behind. 

The Possibility of A One-type-fits-all Approach To Hybrid Work

“With the right approach, there’s an opportunity for any department to work effectively in a remote setting,” says Pedro Barros, VP of Finance at Remote.

This can be in hybrid or entirely remote models. Remote, has no physical offices, so their finance team is fully remote and distributed across multiple continents. In order to succeed as a remote team, especially one that is global, businesses need to view remote work not as an exception to the norm of daily working life, but instead think “remote-first.” 

To be remote-first means treating remote work, and the needs of remote workers, as the default way of working. Transparency, documentation, communication, and trust are all critical so that everyone is equally empowered to do their best. This does not mean that everyone has to be remote and no one can work in an office. It simply means that everyone learns to communicate in a way that makes it equally easy for co-located and remote employees to do their best work.

Obstacles In Hiring Remotely

Hiring and working remotely means that teams can become more distributed geographically, including across international borders. 

“It is no longer necessary for your entire team to live in the same city or even the same country or continent,” says Pedro Barros, VP of Finance at Remote.

The biggest obstacles that are preventing this from being more common are the practical challenges involved with employing someone who lives in a different country – how to pay them, how to provide benefits, and how to manage taxes and compliance. Each of these things can involve expensive, time-consuming processes. That’s why most companies choose to hire only in their own country, even for fully remote roles.

Remote was created to help companies solve this problem. The company serves as an employer of record so that its customers can legally hire full-time employees in more than 65 countries, and give them an easy way to hire, onboard, pay, and offer benefits and stock options no matter where their teams are located. 

The Productivity Rate Of Remote Employees

In Microsoft’s Hybrid Work Report, 80% of employees say they are just as or more productive since going remote or hybrid. Flexible work policies generally lead to positive effects on productivity, and they also have other benefits like allowing employees to prioritize their families, health, and wellbeing. 

“For remote roles, it may be necessary to rethink how productivity is measured,” says Pedro Barros, VP of Finance at Remote.

An unfortunate growing trend in remote work is the practice of monitoring employees to ensure they’re working on their assigned projects at particular times, and tracking how many hours they work in a day. This is completely unnecessary. In many cases, it doesn’t matter how much time someone spends in front of their computer or what time of day they’re completing their assigned work. What is important is that an employee’s output is what you expect from someone in their role. 

Challenges In Hiring Remote Finance Professionals

Similar to recruiting talent in other sectors, the challenges with hiring remote finance professionals comes from the competition for top talent. As remote work creates access to a wider pool of world-class finance professionals, companies must also remember that they are competing for the same talent on a global scale alongside the most successful multinational companies. 

One way to stand out beyond pay and flexible work policies is with employee benefits. In Remote’s recent report, 60% of employees say they have chosen one job over another because it offered a better benefits package. For global remote roles, that means offering localized benefits that are tailored to their specific needs.

Maintaining Employee Well-Being Through Virtual Means

Employee well-being and belonging are part of the foundation of great workplace culture, whether that culture is remote or not. Employers play a large role in the lives of their employees, especially their mental health, so creating a culture of acceptance and trust helps to support people to do their best work. There are a number of ways that a company can support their remote employees’ well-being, including letting people take time off when needed, providing resources and training, and implementing a flexible, asynchronous work schedule. 


Keeping up with the “S” in the ESG

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Fatihah Ramzi, DigitalCFO Asia | 11 November 2022

Wilson Ang, Partner, Head of Asia Regulatory Compliance and Investigations, Norton Rose Fulbright

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How can a business manage its interactions with its employees, the society in which it conducts business, and the political landscape? The “S” in ESG investing, the social component of sustainable investing, stands for this fundamental query. The financial performance of a corporation can be impacted by a variety of social issues, from short- to long-term difficulties. The company’s strengths and limitations in coping with social trends, labor, and politics are social aspects to take into account while making sustainable investment decisions. Concentrating on these issues can boost business success and corporate responsibility.

To gain a better understanding of the “S” component in ESG, DigitalCFO Asia spoke with Wilson Ang, Partner, Head of Asia Regulatory Compliance and Investigations, Norton Rose Fulbright.

The Current Trends In Social Factors That Are Greatly Affecting Businesses

ESG is an umbrella term that was coined by the United Nations in 2005 and relates to investments that go beyond typical short-term financial considerations. The concepts are focused on long-term, responsible value investing, and they cover environmental, social and governance issues. G, for governance, has always been top-of-mind for business and the E for environment is gaining prominence in recent years. 

“However, the social factor in ESG, or the ‘S’ component, tends to be a bit more difficult to grapple with as it spans across a wide spectrum of concerns,” says Wilson Ang, Partner, Head of Asia Regulatory Compliance and Investigations, Norton Rose Fulbright.

Some of these concerns can be quite egregious and may have criminal implications. Others that are less obvious, like workplace harassment, discrimination, and lack of engagement, are also important. CFOs need to be aware of the social issues that can have an impact on the company’s bottom line or potentially help to raise the top line, as there are financial advantages to getting this right. 

The range of social factors impacting a company is dependent on the types of business it engages in. On one hand, there are very serious social concerns that threaten basic, fundamental human freedom, which we should protect. These include human rights issues, modern slavery, forced labor and debt bondage. Other social concerns, such as workplace bullying, intimidation, sexual harassment and racial or religious discrimination, undermine human dignity that should be respected. 

“The protection and preservation of human diversity are also crucial in ensuring the equality of opportunities. Related workplace social factors include talent engagement and retention, learning and development programs, and ensuring responsible data use and protection. While these are historically perceived as “softer” social issues, they are increasingly taking center stage and will have teeth when they are eventually enshrined in legislation,” says Wilson Ang, Partner, Head of Asia Regulatory Compliance and Investigations, Norton Rose Fulbright. 

For instance, Singapore’s Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) previously issued guidelines on driving fair and progressive employment practices and anti-discriminatory practices. This will soon gain the effect of law and be enshrined in legislation, thus opening doors for more quality opportunities. 

Ensuring A Safe And Equitable Workplace

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated several social concerns that had already been in existence. Lockdowns, travel restrictions, vaccinations and even contact tracing have affected individuals physically, mentally, and emotionally. It also disproportionately affected migrant workers and brought several underlying social issues to light. 

People who were not able to work from home due to their existing environment and circumstances were disproportionately affected in terms of their livelihoods and income. Those who were able to work remotely also had to adjust to the new environment and faced pressures trying to prove that they are equally productive while working from home. There have also been stories of employees being intimidated or bullied online with increased remote working.

In addition, the pandemic and economic downturn have resulted in a number of retrenchment exercises; supply chain disruptions have also caused severe economic pressures. These have all contributed to a rise in anxiety and stress among employees.  

So what can companies do to ensure a safe and equitable workplace? 

“There is a clear need for companies to stay ahead of the evolving work environment and changing regulations. While a lot of the new working arrangements were implemented to meet business needs during the pandemic, there is value for companies to retain and institute those policies that help to foster greater equality opportunities. For example, work-from-home arrangements can benefit working parents, who might be able to better care for their children,” says Wilson Ang, Partner, Head of Asia Regulatory Compliance and Investigations, Norton Rose Fulbright. 

Priorities Of Socially Conscious Companies

The shift to a hybrid work environment needs to be an ongoing conversation that companies have with their employees. The majority of the workforce has become used to working from home, and most would wish to retain and continue enjoying the flexibility and benefits of remote working. At the same time, employers who see the benefits of in-person team gatherings and collaborations may hold the view that working in an office outweighs a work-from-home arrangement.  

If return-to-office policies are implemented too quickly without consultation with broader teams, this might result in a mismatch of expectations and potentially impact team morale and confidence. Moving forward, organizations are expected to adopt a calibrated hybrid approach that balances out the expectations of the workforce with flexible working arrangements.  

“The social factor in ESG is fundamentally really about caring; caring about your employees and caring about the workplace environment that they are in,” says Wilson Ang, Partner, Head of Asia Regulatory Compliance and Investigations, Norton Rose Fulbright. 

Promoting Ethical Business In Daily Internal and External Interactions

When it comes to the promotion of ethical businesses and being socially conscious, companies need to first conduct a materiality assessment. This assessment can be conducted along 2 axes and will help businesses to form a view on the issues that are material to them. The first axis focuses on the importance of the issue internally, such as to business operations and employees. The second axis focuses on the importance of the issue externally, including stakeholders, investors, local communities, and customers. 

Depending on where the issues are plotted against the axes, companies are then able to identify overlapping, material factors that are critical to both their business and stakeholders. 

The outcome of this materiality assessment will form part of a company’s strategic governance. Any company will benefit from knowing the material factors that they need to focus on and prioritize, as there are just too many things under the sun. This will help them to better develop strategies that are ethically sound and socially conscious. 

“All cases from a social perspective, such as workplace discrimination, bullying, intimidation and harassment issues, will increasingly take center stage as we gradually return to the office and bring along an increased focus on mental wellness. Organizations need to take these issues seriously and should have in place a trusted and open channel for employees to speak up, and businesses need to address them promptly and appropriately. This will help to protect the diversity of thought, expression, conscience and religion,” Wilson Ang, Partner, Head of Asia Regulatory Compliance and Investigations, Norton Rose Fulbright. 

There will also be a greater focus on supply chain diligence given the spotlight on labor violations. In other words, modern slavery, forced labor, debt bondage, and more are issues that businesses need to be increasingly aware of and have policies for. These issues are especially prevalent in Asia, fueled by widespread poverty, migration, weak governance, and the abuse of cultural practices.

“That’s something that businesses in this part of the world need to be conscious of. Not just in their immediate employment workforce, but also the individuals and the companies that they work with up and down the supply chain,” says Wilson Ang, Partner, Head of Asia Regulatory Compliance and Investigations, Norton Rose Fulbright. 

Leveraging the Social Criteria in ESG to Attract and Retain Employees

The pandemic has led to the global workforce doing a lot of rethinking and internalizing the role that they play in a company. Many are now questioning the real value and impact of their work and some have even expressed the desire to do more than just drive bottom line growth. 

“I think a certain degree of trust has broken down and employees are looking for a purpose beyond profit,” says Wilson Ang, Partner, Regulatory Compliance and Investigations, Norton Rose Fulbright. 

These issues have led to what is known as the great resignation. In the aftermath of the pandemic, the great resignation has been followed by the great regret. People who shifted or quit their jobs and moved somewhere else, felt that the grass is not always greener on the other side. 

The great resignation is much like playing musical chairs with unsatisfactory jobs, and this is where the pandemic provides a good opportunity for companies to take stock, and give their employees room to search for purpose in their work so that they do not drift from one job to another.  

For employers trying to include social criteria into their ESG strategy, there should be meaningful workforce engagement opportunities for employees to be given a voice in major decisions and be treated as an important internal stakeholder. This allows them to have some involvement in crafting their own career path in conjunction with the broader corporate strategy. There must also be some investment in employees by providing training and upskilling them. As the saying goes, train them so well that they can go anywhere they want, but treat them so well that they want to stay. These are definitely opportunities not to be missed. 


Almost Half Of Singaporean Workers Threaten To Quit Their Jobs If Employers Force Them Back Into Office Full-time

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DigitalCFO Newsroom | 31 October 2022

88% of Singaporeans say they want to work remotely at least once a week.

Like other employees around the globe who have become accustomed to a hybrid work environment, Singaporeans are pushing back on employers who insist they return to the office full-time. According to a new study by Employment Hero, 81% of Singaporean workers are keen to take on a permanent remote position, and 46% of remote and hybrid workers would even consider leaving their jobs if employers forced them to return to the office full-time.

According to its 2022 Remote Work Report which polled close to 1,000 Singaporean knowledge workers, Gen Z and Millennials aged 18-35 were the main drivers of this trend, with 60% of those surveyed within this age group more likely to still work fully remotely.  

Location fluidity was cited as one of the main reasons for Singaporeans to want to work remotely, with 30% of Singaporean workers having moved further away from the office or taken a working holiday while working remotely. Additionally, the rise of remote work has also brought about fresh opportunities Singaporeans are keen to pursue. This was particularly prominent amongst Gen Zs who are 78% more likely to consider moving abroad. 

The Current State of Work


While 84% of employees worked remotely or in a hybrid style from 2020 and 2021, the return to a post-pandemic ‘normal’ saw 41% returning to the office full-time this year. Of these, 49% stated that their return was due to their employer’s directive.

With the rising cost of living and talks of an upcoming recession, over half of Singaporean knowledge workers have a secondary income stream to relieve some of their financial burdens. Although 48% agreed that sometimes their other income streams take away their focus from their primary job, 81% stated that their side income does not affect their productivity at work.

Additionally, respondents also said that remote or hybrid work has been better for their work-life balance, mental health, quality of work, productivity, and innovation. More importantly, Singaporean workers also believe that it supports diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), with 64% of workers from marginalised groups agreeing that remote work protects them from discrimination.

The Future Is Flexible

There is a clear preference amongst Singaporean knowledge workers for being able to work remotely, particularly in a hybrid model where they are able to enjoy the best of home and office settings.

“With a majority of employees having returned to the office full-time, work seems to have returned to some form of ‘normalcy’ – but employers need to be wary of pushing employees back into the ‘traditional’ model of work and be mindful that talent won’t forget the positive impact working remotely or in a hybrid setting had on their mental health and work-life balance,” said Alex Hattingh, Chief People Officer at Employment Hero.

“Companies looking to implement remote work should be ready to support their remote workers’ needs, being especially aware that these will differ across regions. In Singapore for example, better advocacy of work-life balance, additional financial support such as subsidising utilities, upskilling opportunities and the proper use of digital tools to maximise employees’ time and output are high on the list of priorities that employees look for in terms of support.

“We are in an era where employee working habits are shaping the employment landscape, Millennials and Gen Zs are driving working trends, and employers need to be willing to listen. The future of work is undoubtedly flexible; employers must adapt and engage with their workforce if they hope to successfully attract and retain great talent, or risk losing out,” Hattingh added. 


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