Digital Workplace: The New Normal
The COVID-19 pandemic is set to reshape business and society across the world, to a further extent than any forecasters had anticipated. The full impact in terms of lasting changes in the economic landscape, beyond the recession and eventual recovery, is still yet to be understood. However, one permanent shift has already made itself clear: the ubiquity of the remote work option across industries, sectors and positions.
The digital workplace was once the preserve of highly skilled professionals, the self-employed, or employees granted special permission not to report to a physical office. From 2020, however, the digital workplace is the norm. According to a May 1st report in the Financial Times, the world’s largest companies, companies spurred to set up remote work arrangements due to social distancing requirements, are beginning to consider the implicit cost effectiveness of reducing the extent of their real estate overhead. Meanwhile, leading figures in various industries have indicated their enthusiasm for home office setups and remote work, vouching for its feasibility and effectiveness.
Setting Up Remote Work in Hong Kong
With this cultural shift well underway, the Hong Kong Productivity Council has launched its Distance Business Program, which grants funding of up to HK$300,000 to companies and enterprises in the process of transitioning their operations to IT-based configurations and training their employees to work with new skills.
The HK$300,000 amount is available to companies that commence distance business projects which they can complete within six months. Individual IT-based transition projects are eligible for a maximum of HK$100,000
Applicable Business Categories
Online Business/eCommerce: For businesses seeking to build websites, apps or other online solutions to deliver products and services, market their brand, and engage in advertising and promotional offers.
Online Order Processing: For companies that plan to develop online web or app-based solutions for customers to place orders for products or services, make purchases or enroll in subscriptions. The technology set up should cover order placements, processing and delivery either independently or through an e-logistics platform.
Online Customer Service/Engagement: For businesses intending to offer appointments, bookings and reservations through online platforms. This category includes distance learning facilities.
Customer Experience Enhancement: For businesses developing AI Chat for customer support, enhancing digital User Experience with new Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality UX solutions and employing data analytics for the purpose of improving customer experience on digital platforms.
Digital Payments: Setting up hardware, software and network services to process digital payments. Service fees for individual transactions are not covered in this category.
Online/Cloud Financial Management systems: Digitalizing invoices, collections, ledgers and budgeting and reporting with secure remotely accessible systems.
Cloud-based HR management: Managing Human Resources, including payroll, expensing, attendance and reporting with secure remotely accessible systems.
Virtual team management/communications: Distance business team communication and collaboration through internet platforms, including messaging, voice, document sharing and project management
Cloud based file management: File management systems to digitalize hard copies of documents and upload to secure cloud storage services, and Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) to provide secure remote access to company network systems.
Cybersecurity: Enhance digital security with hardware and software solutions, including encryption, firewalls and antivirus/malware solutions.
Customized online/cloud business support: For companies that plan to develop individualized holistic distance business solutions tailored to their own operations that do not fit into any of the previous categories. This category includes Enterprise Resource Planning, e-application forms and Robotic Process Automation.
All privately owned Hong Kong companies with a valid registration under the Business Registration Ordinance carrying out business operations prior to January 2020 with demonstrable activities in their industry are eligible to apply for the Distance Business Program.
Applications are open from May 18, 2020. All applications will be screened by HKPC, and should include detailed, substantive plans to implement distance business solutions.
IT Service Providers Reference List
HKPC is compiling a list of service providers for digitalization and online platform development. Businesses in the IT sector may apply to be placed on the list if they hold a valid business registration certificate and demonstrate experience and capability. Applications are open from May 4. The first reference list will be available on May 15, 2020.
Today’s adaptation, tomorrow’s advantage
While 2019 saw the digitalization of tax, 2020 is the year of digitalizing all of commerce. The extent to which distance business initiatives are applicable to all companies and enterprises in Hong Kong and around the world cannot be understated. From wholesale suppliers to professional service providers, tutorial centers and gyms, all businesses are rapidly shifting towards digital services and transactions. Many of these services and revenue streams will continue even after the end of social distancing measures.
Accessibility is a form of opportunity, and in this new landscape, the most dynamic and enterprising businesses will find ways to innovate and reach new markets while tapping the potential of analytics to enhance their existing customer engagement.
Feel free to contact us with any enquiries about digitalizing your business and applying to HKPC’s D-biz fund.
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