Microsoft has released the results of its latest Work Trend Index survey, highlighting the various challenges businesses face as they transition to new business models.
Based on a survey of 31,000 workers worldwide and trillions of signals from Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn, the report identifies a number of trends brought about by the shift towards hybrid work.
The overall conclusion is that the calculations for workers have changed when it comes to selecting an employer and businesses need to react accordingly with new policies that support the demand for more flexibility and autonomy.
Times are changing
Microsoft says one of the biggest mistakes companies are making is trying to restore old methodologies as the company begins to return to normal in many corners of the globe.
In particular, the company cited the drive to bring employees back to the office full-time, driven by fears shared by more than half (54%) of senior executives about workers’ ability to stay productive at home.
At least half of companies plan to enforce a full-time return to office within the next twelve months, data collected by Microsoft suggests, but a similar percentage of workers (52%) said they would prefer a hybrid or completely remote model.
Instead of tying all employees to a specific style of work, companies should try to balance everyone’s preferences, says Microsoft. It should be the company’s responsibility to make the office worth the commute.
“It is not possible to undo the experience and lasting impact of the past two years,” said Jared Spataro, CVP Modern Work at Microsoft. “Allowing managers to adapt to new employee expectations helps prepare companies for long-term success.”
Another area of concern identified by Microsoft is the negative effects on work-life balance created by moving from the traditional nine to five to a more flexible system, and the knock-on effects on the relationship between team members.
Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a 28% increase in the amount of work done outside typical working hours and a 14% increase over the weekend. While Microsoft says it’s encouraging to see people take advantage of the new freedoms offered by flexible working, the company took the opportunity to remind companies that flexibility doesn’t mean “always on.”
Microsoft also noted that while the majority (58%) of hybrid workers say they have maintained ties with their coworkers, only half of remote employees say they have a “thriving” relationship with their direct team. To address these kinds of issues, the company suggests that companies should take a deliberate approach to ensure remote and new employees are sufficiently supported and ample opportunities are offered to get to know their colleagues.
“Moving to a hybrid workplace doesn’t start with new technologies or company policies. It starts with culture, which embraces a growth mindset, a willingness to reimagine almost every aspect of the way work is done, ”concluded Jared Spataro, CVP Modern Work at Microsoft.
“Every employee will need to develop new skills to adapt to this new way of working, and with the right support and tools, hybrid work can unlock the potential for a workplace that works for everyone.”