One year since the first wave of shutdowns and subsequent shift to remote working, the world is still figuring out the best methods to navigate through the changing times. As vaccine distribution picks up pace around the globe, a lot of working crowd is moving to a hybrid model where some employees return to the workplace and others continue to work from home.
Acknowledging the trend, Microsoft said it has been working on the hybrid work strategy for its 160,000+ employees around the world and has detailed out how the strategy has been evolving. Separately, the company has released a set of trends in its ‘2021 Work Trend Index’ report on remote working by surveying 31,000 people across 31 countries and analysing a trove of data around productivity and labor across Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn.
With over 40% of the global workforce considering leaving their employer this year, a thoughtful approach to hybrid work will be critical for attracting and retaining diverse talent, the study finds.
“The choices you make today will impact your organization for years to come. It’s a moment that requires clear vision and a growth mindset. These decisions will impact everything from how you shape culture, to how you attract and retain talent, to how you can better foster collaboration and innovation,” said Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365.
Flexible work is here to stay: About 70% of the surveyed people wants to continue the flexible remote work option while over 65% wants to have more in-person time with their teams. Decision makers in 66% of the businesses surveyed said they are considering redesigning their office spaces to offer a hybrid option for their workforce.
Leaders are out of touch with employees: Workers are feeling disconnected with their leaders – 37% of the global workforce feel their employees are demanding too much of them at a time like this. On the other hand, leaders are faring better than their employees – 61% of leaders said they “thriving” right now – 23% points higher than those without decision-making authority. Leaders also report building stronger relationships with colleagues and leadership (+11% points and +19% points higher respectively), earning higher incomes (+17% points), and taking all or more of their allotted vacation days (+12% points).
High productivity is masking an exhausted workforce: One in five respondents feel their employer doesn’t care about their work-life balance. About 54% feel overworked while 39% feel exhausted.
Gen Z is at risk and will need to be re-energized: As per the study, 60% of Gen Z workforce – those between the ages of 18 and 25 – feel they are merely surviving or flat-out struggling right now. They reported that they were more likely to struggle balancing work with life (+8% points) and to feel exhausted after a typical day of work (+8% points) when compared to older generations.
Shrinking networks are endangering innovation: The shift to remote has shrunk networks, which in turn would result in companies becoming more siloed than they were before the pandemic. Collaboration trends in Microsoft Teams and Outlook show that interactions with immediate team or close network strengthened with the move to remote work; however, interactions outside of that team, or distant networks, have diminished.
Authenticity will spur productivity and wellbeing: As people have increased their interactions with coworkers, it has led to an environment where people feel more comfortable to be themselves. Compared to one year ago, 39% people say they’re more likely to be their full, authentic selves at work and 31% are less likely to feel embarrassed or ashamed when their home life shows up at work. Those who have developed a close connection with their coworkers experienced stronger work relationships, higher productivity and better overall wellbeing.
Talent is everywhere in a hybrid work world: The shift to remote has widened the talent marketplace. Remote job postings on LinkedIn increased more than five times during the pandemic while 46% of remote workers surveyed are planning to move to a new location this year because they can now work remotely. 41% of employees are considering leaving their current employer this year and 46% say they’re likely to move because they can now work remotely.
“As opportunity is democratized with remote work and talent movement, we’ll see a spread of skills across the country, and this is the time for business leaders to take the opportunity to access different skills and talent not previously available to them,” Karin Kimbrough, chief economist, LinkedIn, said.