Whether you have started to return to the office in earnest or not, figuring out if you’re ready for hybrid work is going to be an ongoing process. Most organizations have spent an enormous amount of time figuring out the best solution for their culture. And you can imagine that once people start returning to the office, those plans will evolve to meet unexpected needs.
To that end, Microsoft Work Lab recently released its 2021 Work Trend Index. Two things they note immediately is that flexible work arrangements are here to stay, and the talent landscape has fundamentally shifted.
“With over 40 percent 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.” To better handle the changes that are just beginning, the report outlines trends that will shape the future of work.
Flexible Work is Here to Stay
The study found that 70% of employees want flexible remote work options, while 67% want more in-person time with their peers and colleagues. The data is clear, hybrid work arrangements are the expectation of a majority of employees.
According to Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft, “Employee expectations are changing, and we will need to define productivity much more broadly — inclusive of collaboration, learning, and wellbeing to drive career advancement for every worker, including frontline and knowledge workers, as well as for new graduates and those who are in the workforce today. All this needs to be done with flexibility in when, where, and how people work.”
Leaders are Out of Touch and Need a Wake-Up Call
According to the data, leaders are doing far better than junior and frontline employees across categories, including relationship building, taking vacation days, and saying they are thriving right now. Just because leaders are doing well, doesn’t mean their teams are feeling the same. It’s imperative they create open communication lines and listen to what their teams are saying.
High Productivity is Masking an Exhausted Workforce
There has been a lot written on the increase in productivity during the pandemic. However, as it has been drawn out over a year and a half, 54% of those surveyed say they are overworked and 39% report feeling exhausted. While digital tools made remote work possible, digital overload is a hidden side effect, “This barrage of communications is unstructured and mostly unplanned, with 62 percent of calls and meetings unscheduled or conducted ad hoc. And workers are feeling the pressure to keep up.”
Generation Z is at Risk
60% of those 18-25, and new to the workforce stated they are struggling or merely surviving. Typically new generations bring fresh thinking and energy to the office that can sometimes challenge the status quo to move companies forward. Without the ability to build relationships in a face-to-face environment, the generation is struggling with fulfillment in their professional lives.
Remote Work is Shrinking Networks
As employees moved to remote work, they tended to interact primarily with their own team. The data shows that interactions with other teams have diminished. What this means is that teams have become more siloed during the pandemic. On the bright side, as employees start returning to a hybrid work environment, data suggests that this trend will be reversed and network size will begin to expand to pre-pandemic levels.
To see more trends we recommend reading the report from Microsoft. And if you have questions on how to best manage a hybrid work arrangement that supports your culture, send us a note, and we’ll see what we can do to help.