As employees begin to filter back into offices across the globe, Microsoft and LinkedIn have published the results of new research into working trends and preferences.
Based on a poll of 2,500 Microsoft employees, the Work Trend Index highlights a conflicting desire to both retain the benefits of remote working and reclaim the advantages of in-person collaboration. Microsoft is calling this the “hybrid work paradox”.
In comparison to last year, an almost identical number of employees said their productivity has not slipped since going remote (77% versus 76% in 2020), but the proportion that are “satisfied with the quality of connection with coworkers” has dropped from 86% to 79%.
To address these communication challenges, many workers intend to spend at least some time in the office in future. The largest section of respondents (48%) plan to work from the office three or four days per week, while 31% will make an appearance once or twice.
The research shows that businesses will need to accommodate a variety of working styles if they are to maximize productivity; it’s all about different strokes for different folks, says Microsoft. According to the results, the majority of employees who plan to spend the most and least time in the office will do so for the exact same reason: to help them focus on their work.
“Our new data shows there is no one-size-fits-all approach to hybrid work, as employee expectations continue to change,” said Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO.
“The only way for organizations to solve for this complexity is to embrace flexibility across their entire operating model, including the ways people work, the places they inhabit and how they approach business processes.”
The ‘Great Reshuffle’
The current period of transition is referred to at LinkedIn as the “Great Reshuffle”. A separate survey conducted by the networking platform shows that, broadly, business leaders are optimistic about the opportunity to “rewrite their playbook”.
“Leaders are rethinking their working models, cultures and company values, while at the same time, employees are rethinking not only how and where they work, but why. At the core of it all is the start of a new, more dynamic relationship between employers and employees,” the report states.
In a bid to help businesses navigate this period of turbulence, both Microsoft and LinkedIn are rolling out various new tools and features.
The former has announced a raft of changes for collaboration platform Teams, which it hopes will help workers transition more effectively between the home and office. New features include support for Apple CarPlay, and calendar options that allow users to specify whether they will attend a meeting via Teams or in-person.
LinkedIn, meanwhile, has made roughly 40 online learning courses free until October 9, to help employees and HR staff prepare for the period of change. The company is also launching a new platform called LinkedIn Learning Hub, which will deploy “personalized content, community-based learning and skill-development insights” to enhance training initiatives.