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The future of work in Asia: remote work, gig economy, and skills for the future

Industry Resources & Trends
CXC Global6 min read
CXC GlobalJanuary 09, 2024
CXC Global

For businesses in Asia, it’s essential to understand that the way people work is changing fast, thanks to remote work and the gig economy. After all, remote work lets people work from anywhere—and the gig economy is growing because many people, especially the younger ones, want to work in their own way and on their own time. 

What does this mean? This challenges businesses as they must get used to workers who come and go. The big question is: how can companies navigate this new kind of work world and thrive?

How is work changing in Asia, and how big of a change is it? We’ll discuss why these changes happen, what they mean for companies, and how businesses can do well in this landscape.

The shift towards remote work in Asia

The shift towards remote work in the Asia-Pacific region has been influenced by various factors such as technological advancements, changing employee preferences, and the need for business continuity. 

According to an IDC report, 56% of Asia Pacific employees desire flexible work. Additionally, remote work fosters a healthier work-life balance, leading to better productivity and happier employees.

Currently, there are Asian countries calling for the return to office setup. Challenges include unstable internet connections and unfavorable technology support, affecting virtual communication and collaboration. Despite these, there are still indications that remote work can become a permanent trend. 

For example, companies like Atlassian, Tech Mahindra, and Tata Consultancy have announced long-term or permanent remote work arrangements.

The emergence of the gig economy

Investopedia defines it as a labour market that relies heavily on temporary and part-time positions filled by independent contractors and freelancers rather than permanent full-time employees. 

For gig workers, this setup offers a lot of flexibility and independence. They can choose when, where, and how much they want to work—which is excellent for balancing personal life or pursuing other interests. 

While there are challenges, such as limited benefits for workers, the gig economy’s growth offers opportunities for: 

  • income diversification
  • the ability to gain various experiences across different roles
  • the freedom to work on projects that align with personal interests and values. 

For businesses, the gig economy offers efficient services and significant cost savings. They can access a broader pool of talent and get the flexibility to scale the workforce up or down as needed. They can even tap into specialised skills for specific projects without the long-term overhead of hiring full-time employees.

The impact of global trends on Asia’s work culture

  1. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that many jobs can be effectively done outside traditional office settings. This led to a more adaptable approach to work in Asia, with businesses embracing remote or hybrid models and prioritising digital tools and connectivity.
  2. Startup culture:The Asia-Pacific region is considered a hotbed of innovation, nurturing a thriving startup culture across diverse economies. Startups often favor flexibility, creativity, and a flat hierarchy, which is attractive to the younger workforce. This influence pushes traditional businesses to adopt similar practices, fostering more environments that value collaboration and innovation.
  3. Technological advancements: Rapid advancements in technology, such as the development of artificial intelligence, automation, and digital platforms, are changing not just the types of jobs available but also how and where these jobs are done. They also focus on building digital literacy and tech-savvy strategies among their workforce to stay competitive in a market where remote jobs and gig opportunities are becoming the norm.
  4. Globalisation and economic shifts: The increasing interconnectedness of global markets and shifting economic powers also impact Asia’s work culture. Companies are expanding their reach, requiring a culturally adept workforce that can operate globally.
  5. Environmental and social awareness: Remote work supports ecological goals by reducing cars on the road—thereby lowering carbon emissions. Additionally, the remote work setup enables companies to use less electricity, less energy, and less paper. This approach helps conserve resources and makes these companies more attractive to environmentally conscious professionals in the gig economy.

Skills for the future in Asia: adapting to a changing work environment

As the work culture changes in Asia, the skills people need for their jobs are changing, too. With new technology, different kinds of jobs, and significant changes in the world, people and businesses have to learn new things. 

Introduction to future-ready skills

Being equipped with future-ready skills has become more crucial than ever. This shift in the workforce landscape is driven by technological progress, changing economic conditions, and new work models like the gig economy and remote work.

The changing nature of work in Asia demands a fresh approach to professional development. It’s no longer just about having fixed skills—it’s about cultivating an ability to learn, adapt, and grow continuously. 

This new reality in Asia’s workplaces calls for a mindset shift. Both employees and employers must recognize that the work landscape is transforming and that staying ahead means being open to learning and evolving. The focus is now on developing a workforce that is agile, resilient, and ready to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

In line with this new reality, three essential skills are exceptionally vital for thriving in the gig economy:

Digital literacy

As technology becomes increasingly integral to all aspects of work, digital literacy is essential. This means more than just basic computer skills. This also includes understanding and leveraging digital tools and platforms.

Here’s an example: a marketer will need to master digital analytics tools, while a project manager will need to be proficient in online collaboration platforms. 

Adaptive thinking

In remote work, employees must navigate challenges like virtual collaboration and managing work-life balance without a traditional office structure. Adaptive thinking allows them to adjust to different communication tools and work styles, ensuring productivity and effectiveness from any location. 

Adaptive thinking enables gig workers to swiftly shift strategies and approaches based on project needs, client demands, or market trends. This flexibility is critical to thriving in the gig economy, where success often depends on quickly learning new skills and adapting to varied work environments.

Cross-cultural competency

Understanding and navigating cultural differences is essential—especially in Asia’s multicultural landscape, where sensitivity to cultural nuances can enhance teamwork, foster innovation, and improve workplace dynamics. 

In the broader scope, cross-cultural competency positions businesses and individuals for long-term success in a globalised economy. 

For businesses, it means building stronger international partnerships, effectively entering new markets, and creating globally appealing products and services. For individuals, it opens up a world of opportunities, allowing them to excel in multinational teams and take on roles with a global dimension. 

Strategies for skill development and adaptation

People and companies must focus on learning new skills to keep up with the changing job market. 

For individuals, this means always being ready to learn. Here are some examples of where individuals can practice this mindset:

  • Schools and universities that teach essential skills like digital know-how and how to work well with people from different cultures. 
  • Online courses and webinars are also great ways to learn new things and keep up with what’s happening in different industries.

For companies, they can help by creating a workplace where learning is encouraged:

  • They can offer training programs, set up mentoring, and support their employees in taking courses that help them grow. This helps the employees get better at their jobs and makes them happier. 
  • Companies can also work with schools or online learning platforms to ensure the training they offer is just what their employees need. 

Conclusion: embracing the future of work in Asia

The work environment in Asia is rapidly evolving, with a significant shift towards remote work and the gig economy. 

Remote work offers flexibility and a better balance between personal and professional life, though it comes with challenges like the need for stable internet and effective online collaboration. The gig economy, growing in popularity, provides freedom and varied work experiences but often needs job security and traditional benefits.

New and modern digital skills are becoming increasingly important in this changing landscape. Continuous learning and adaptability are also crucial for individuals and businesses looking to the future. Corporations, on their part, should foster a culture of learning and support their teams in skill development.

In light of these changes, engaging contractor management services can be a good move, particularly for businesses managing a remote or gig workforce. These services can help enterprises efficiently manage their freelance and contract-based workforce and navigate the complexities of the gig economy and remote work arrangements.

As we embrace the future of work in Asia, it’s about more than just adapting to change—it’s about being proactive and strategic in our approach. CXC can help your business keep up with the evolving work environment and thrive. You can focus on your business operations while we handle contractor management and administrative services. 

Our solutions are complete, comprehensive, and hassle-free. With years of experience serving global businesses, we have the knowledge and expertise needed to help you maximize the future of work in Asia. Reach out to us today.


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At CXC, we want to help you grow your business with flexible, contingent talent. But we also understand that managing a contingent workforce can be complicated, costly and time-consuming. Through our MSP solution, we can help you to fulfil all of your contingent hiring needs, including temp employees, independent contractors and SOW workers. And if your needs change? No problem. Our flexible solution is designed to scale up and down to match our clients’ requirements.

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