The Evolution Of Work

Managing The Emerging Realities Of ‘Remote’

The next great disruption is hybrid work — Are we ready?

In its new Work Trend Index, The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work — Are We Ready?, Microsoft releases findings and considerations from one year of remote work. Access the report here.

REDMOND, Wash., March 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Microsoft Corp. on Monday announced findings from its first-annual Work Trend Index. Titled “The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work — Are We Ready?” the report uncovers seven hybrid work trends every business leader must know as we enter a new era of work.

The report indicates that business leaders should resist the urge to see hybrid work as business as usual. It will require the rethinking of long-held assumptions.

“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,” said Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365. “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.”

A Changed Nature Of Work

The findings suggest that this past year has fundamentally changed the nature of work:

  • Collaboration trends in Microsoft Teams and Outlook suggest our networks have contracted, but hybrid work will revive them.
  • Time spent in meetings has more than doubled globally, and over 40 billion more emails were delivered in February of this year compared with last.
  • Work has become more human. Nearly 40% say they feel more comfortable bringing their full selves to work than before the pandemic, and one in six have cried with a colleague this past year.

They also show that we are on the cusp of a workplace disruption:

  • 73% of workers surveyed want flexible remote work options to continue.
  • Remote job postings on LinkedIn increased more than five times during the pandemic.
  • Over 40% of the global workforce is considering leaving their employer this year and 46% are planning to move now that they can work remotely.

In short, addressing flexible work will impact who stays, who goes and who joins a company.

To help organizations through the transition, the 2021 Work Trend Index outlines findings from a study of more than 31,000 people in 31 countries and analyzes trillions of aggregate productivity and labor signals across Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn. It also includes perspectives from experts who have studied collaboration, social capital and workspace design at work for decades.

What Business Leaders Need To Know

The report uncovers seven hybrid work trends every business leader needs to know as we enter this new era of work:

  • Flexible work is here to stay.
  • Leaders are out of touch with employees and need a wake-up call.
  • High productivity is masking an exhausted workforce.
  • Gen Z is at risk and will need to be re-energized.
  • Shrinking networks are endangering innovation.
  • Authenticity will spur productivity and well-being.
  • Talent is everywhere in a hybrid work world.

In addition to uncovering what’s at stake with the future of work, the Work Trend Index identifies five strategies for business leaders as they begin to make the necessary shift:

  • Create a plan to empower people for extreme flexibility.
  • Invest in space and technology to bridge the physical and digital worlds.
  • Combat digital exhaustion from the top.
  • Prioritize rebuilding social capital and culture.
  • Rethink the employee experience to compete for the best and most diverse talent
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...

“During this pandemic we’ve observed a swift acceleration of certain pre-COVID trends. But perhaps one of the most exciting trends is this rise in remote work,” said Karin Kimbrough, chief economist, LinkedIn. “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.”

Excerpts from the The Next Great Disruption study:

1. Flexible Work Is Here To Stay

Employees want the best of both worlds: over 70 percent of workers want flexible remote work options to continue, while over 65 percent are craving more in-person time with their teams. To prepare, 66 percent of business decision makers are considering redesigning physical spaces to better accommodate hybrid work environments. The data is clear: extreme flexibility and hybrid work will define the post-pandemic workplace.

2. Leaders Are Out Of Touch With Employees And Need A Wake-Up Call

Many business leaders are faring better than their employees. Sixty-one percent of leaders say they are “thriving” right now — 23 percentage points higher than those without decision-making authority. They also report building stronger relationships with colleagues (+11 percentage points) and leadership (+19 percentage points), earning higher incomes (+17 percentage points), and taking all or more of their allotted vacation days (+12 percentage points).

Business leaders surveyed were also more likely to be Millennials or Gen X, male, information workers, and farther along in their careers. In contrast, Gen Z, women, frontline workers, and those new to their careers reported struggling the most over the past year.

And workers feel the disconnect. Thirty-seven percent of the global workforce says their companies are asking too much of them at a time like this.

3. High Productivity Is Masking An Exhausted Workforce

Self-assessed productivity has remained the same or higher for many employees over the past year, but at a human cost. One in five global survey respondents say their employer doesn’t care about their work-life balance. Fifty-four percent feel overworked. Thirty-nine percent feel exhausted. And trillions of productivity signals from Microsoft 365 quantify the precise digital exhaustion workers are feeling.

The digital intensity of workers’ days has increased substantially, with the average number of meetings and chats steadily increasing since last year.

 

 

 

About WorkLab
WorkLab is a Microsoft digital publication devoted to illuminating the future of work, grounded in research and the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic. By bringing together science-based insight and thoughtful, compelling stories on how work is changing, WorkLab’s mission is to start larger conversations about the future of work and help customers in the process.
About Microsoft
Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

 

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