Are Attitudes to Web Workers Changing in Asia?

When it comes to remote work, is the point cost savings or employee motivation (or both)? Maybe it depends on the continent, suggests an article in ZDNet Asia (s cbs). Contradicting a recent survey by Dice Holdings that found many employees would be willing to take a pay cut for the right to telecommute, the piece asserted that Asian “mobile workers… expected to draw the same salary as they would, working in an office.”

This conclusion is noteworthy for anyone looking to hire web workers in Asia, but it’s also interesting for the gap it describes between U.S. and Asian attitudes. The ZDNet Asia article quotes Gavin Henshaw, head of Kelly IT Resources, who sums up the difference:

while telecommuting may be money-saving alternative in the United States, it is “definitely more for employee morale and retention” in the Asian context.

Are Asian companies increasingly positive about web working? And is it true that they’re developing  a rounded outlook on the subject, seeing it as a way to retain and motivate talent not just cut costs? Survey data and a handful of stories support this view, including a 2008 poll commissioned by Avaya and conducted by IDC in Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong, India and China, which showed that web work is indeed increasingly accepted:

81 percent of respondents in the Asia-Pacific either agreed or strongly agreed that telecommuting improves productivity, compared to only 61 per cent in 2005…. in 2008, 76 percent of those surveyed in China and 78 per cent of those surveyed in Singapore saw telecommuting as a means of improving work-life balance among their employees.

Several recent trend pieces underline the point that opinion on web workers is shifting in Asia. In a discussion of changing HR practices in Singapore in Human Resources Magazine Asia, for example, Ben Chew, Regional Business Manager of TBC HR Consulting, Singapore says that there “it has become increasingly clear that both employees and employers are more interested in the end-results more than the location of where the work is being completed.” AsiaOne Business reports the civil service in Singapore is increasingly embracing web working, while Indian firms are apparently offering more web working to help women balance their responsibilities.

If you have experience at Asian companies, have you noticed a shift in attitudes toward web work?

Image courtesy of Flickr user Mike Licht,