New report highlights ongoing demand for flexible remote working

Alex Smith
By Alex Smith on 22 March 2021
New report highlights ongoing demand for flexible remote working
Microsoft

Around 73 per cent of workers want flexible remote work options to continue, according to a new report from Microsoft.

The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work — Are We Ready? includes the results of Microsoft’s first Work Trend Index. It finds that over 40 per cent of workers are considering leaving their employer this year and 46 per cent are planning to move now that they can work remotely. Remote job postings on LinkedIn have also increased more than five times during the pandemic.

The Work Trend Index studied more than 31,000 people in 31 countries and analysed trillions of aggregate productivity and labour signals across Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn. It also includes perspectives from experts in collaborations, social capital and workplace design.

The report suggests, based on trends seen in Microsoft Teams and Outlook, that networks have contracted over the past year. However, time spent in meetings has more than doubled, and over 40 billion more emails were delivered in February of this year compared with 2020. 

The findings also suggest that attitudes towards work have changed, with nearly 40 per cent of surveyed workers saying they feel more comfortable bringing their full selves to work than before the pandemic, and one in six saying that they have cried with a colleague in the past year. 

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

Based on these findings, the report identifies seven trends. Firstly, is suggests, flexible work is here to stay. However, it also argues that leaders are out of touch with employees and need a wake-up call, and that high productivity is masking an exhausted workforce. According to the report, Generation Z workers are at particular risk and need to be re-energised, while shrinking networks pose a danger for innovation. Authenticity will be key to spurring productivity and well-being in the new era, the report says, and talent is everywhere in a hybrid work world.

The Work Trend Index also suggests five strategies for businesses to follow as they make a shift towards hybrid working. These include: Creating a plan to empower people for flexibility; Invest in space and technology to bridge the physical and digital worlds; combat digital exhaustion from the top; prioritise rebuilding social capital and culture; and rethink the employee experience to compete for the best and most diverse talent.

“The choices you make today will impact your organisation for years to come,” 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.”

For more information, download The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work — Are We Ready?

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