Businesses must do more to realise effective hybrid work, finds Microsoft

Businesses must do more to realise effective hybrid work, finds Microsoft

The 2022 Work Trend Index shows that employers are not meeting staff expectations

Elly Yates-Roberts |

Microsoft has released its 2022 Work Trend Index report. The annual study surveyed 31,000 people in 31 countries and analysed data from Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn regarding leadership plans for 2022 and what employees want from their employers.  

Five key trends were identified in the study, which Microsoft’s corporate vice president for modern work Jared Spataro said could serve as a “road map for leaders today”, in a blog post.  

Employees are unwilling to sacrifice well-being 
The report found that 53 per cent of respondents are now more likely to prioritise their health and well-being over work. In fact, 18 per cent of respondents quit their jobs in 2021. Looking ahead, 52 per cent of Generation Z and millennials are likely to consider a new job in the next year. 

Managers are stuck between leadership and employees 
Despite the desire for flexibility from employees, 50 per cent of leaders said they plan to fully return to in-person working in 2022. As a result, 54 per cent of managers feel that leadership is “out of touch” with employee expectations and 74 per cent do not feel that they are able to implement change for their teams. “These individuals are closest to employees and have the greatest visibility into problems and solutions,” said Spataro. “But all that insight doesn’t add up to much if managers aren’t able to act.” 

Leaders need to rethink the role of the office 
Many employees (38 per cent) do not know when and why to come into the office, but only 28 per cent of business leaders have outlined agreements for hybrid work. Nearly half (43 per cent) of remote workers do not feel included in meetings, but only 27 per cent of bosses say they have developed hybrid meeting etiquette to improve inclusion and engagement. Spataro said: “It’s time to adopt a degree of intentionality around the who, where and why of in-person gatherings.” 

Flexible work does not need to cross boundaries  
According to the research, meetings and chats are on the rise and are sometimes happening outside traditional working hours, with after-hours and weekend work growing by 28 per cent and 14 per cent respectively. While people should feel empowered to work in ways that are best for them, Spataro warns that employers should set boundaries, as this rate of growth may be unsustainable and impact employees’ personal lives.  

Businesses must help employees cultivate social relationships 
This year’s report echoes the findings of the 2021 Work Trend Index in that teams continue to be more siloed. Despite 58 per cent of hybrid workers reporting that they have maintained their social bonds, only half of remote workers say they have a thriving relationship with their direct teammates.  

Microsoft has launched several new features to combat some of these findings and help businesses improve hybrid working environments for their employees. These include Outlook RSVP, which enables users to indicate whether they will attend a meeting in person or remotely; Surface Hub 2 Smart Camera, with artificial intelligence to provide automatic framing, a wide field of view and image optimisation; and PowerPoint Recording Studio, which enables presenters to record themselves delivering presentations and share with colleagues to watch in their own time. Also new is Viva Inspiration Library – a Microsoft Viva Insights resource that provides thought leadership and best practices from Microsoft and other experts.  

“The shift to a hybrid workplace doesn’t start with new technology or corporate policies,” said Spataro. “It begins with culture – one that embraces a growth mindset, a willingness to reimagine nearly every aspect of the way work gets done. 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 potential for a workplace that works for everyone.” 

Read the 2022 Work Trend Index

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