Below I summarize Microsoft’s reported trends and facts:
1: Flexible work is here to stayWhile 70% of workers want to continue with the new flexible remote work options, but, 67% still crave some in-person time with their teams. So, businesses are considering hybrid work environments. Productivity definitions have changed and will need to be defined further. The report encouraged employers to add collaboration, learning, and well-being criteria to drive career advancement. Transitioning to a hybrid model from fully remote will take time and investment. It will require employees the flexibility to work when and where they want with the tools they need to equally contribute from wherever they happen to be.
2: Leaders are out of touch with employees and need a wake-up callThe report shows that many business leaders fared better than their employees. With so many team members working remotely, however, employers miss the important clues to assess the well-being of their staff. As a result, workers are feeling disconnected.
3: High productivity is masking an exhausted workforceSelf-assessed productivity has remained the same (or higher) for many employees over the past year but 54% are feeling overworked as the change in work dynamics is removing any semblance of work-life balance. Unfortunately, the digital overload is real (and climbing).
4: Gen Z is at risk and will need to be re-energizedThose 18-25 are finding surviving difficult and this report indicates that this past year has been more challenging for them. For example, many Gen-Z’ers report feeling the online environment has removed their chance to bring new ideas to the table or even to get a word in during conference calls/meetings.
5: Shrinking networks are endangering innovationThe move to remote work has created more silos than previously. While interactions with close networks remain strong, close team interactions have started to diminish. As a result, the loss of these connections is being attributed to less innovation/new ideas presented. New Zealand has removed many of their lock-down restrictions and, as a result, is revealing a hopeful look at the future of hybrid work. Therefore, as companies balance a mix of in-person and remote teams, leaders must look for ways to foster cross-team collaboration and spontaneous idea-sharing.
6: Authenticity will spur productivity and well-beingWorking from home has, obviously, resulted in less time around the water cooler. Colleagues are now being introduced to barking dogs, interrupting children, and inquisitive cats. Because their office is now a living room or a kitchen table, colleagues have, as a result, shared more details about how they balance childcare and homeschooling. Ultimately, work became more human, and people felt more comfortable being themselves.
7: Talent is everywhere in a hybrid work worldFortunately, moving to remote work has widened the talent marketplace. A profound impact on the talent landscape is expected. As people no longer have to leave their desks, house, or community to expand their careers, things are changing. Those employers who adapt will have far more options than before. Microsoft reports that 41% of the global workforce is likely to consider leaving their current employer in the next year with 46% planning to make a major pivot or career transition. The changes in the past year caused a reevaluation of priorities, home bases, and lives. The way companies approach the next phase of work – embracing the positive trends and learning from the challenges – will, obviously, impact who stays, who goes, and who ultimately seeks to join your company.
Moving Trends ForwardReviewing the above trends, the traditional notions of how space and time work together is changing. Employers that set aside their long-held assumptions of how work is to be done, and shift their mental model to embrace change, will embrace hybrid work.
- Create a plan to empower people for extreme flexibility
- How are people doing and what do they need?
- Who will be able to work remotely and who might have to come in? How often?
- Invest in space and technology to bridge the physical and digital worlds
- Consider how to equip all workers with the tools they need to contribute
- What would compel a worker to elect to commute?
- Combat digital exhaustion from the top
- Consider how to reduce employee workloads, embrace a balance of synchronous and asynchronous collaboration, and create a culture that encourages and respects breaks
- Prioritize rebuilding social capital and culture
- Reframe network building to a proactive effort
- Rethink employee experience to compete for the best and most diverse talent
- Like it or not, the talent landscape has shift and employee expectations have changed. Leaders that empathize with the unique needs of each group will see remote work as a lever to attract the best talent.