Microsoft has released a study of the state of the workplace, finding that flexible work is here to stay, although leaders are out of touch with employee needs.
The global pandemic has led to monumental changes in the workplace, with companies across the spectrum turning to remote work to stay productive. What happens after the pandemic, however, is very much an open question. Some companies have fully embraced remote work, with no plans to go back to the office, while others are chomping at the bit to bring their workers back in-house. Many others are planning on a hybrid solution, bringing employees back part-time, when needed, but allowing them to work from home most of the time.
According to Microsoft’s study of more than 30,000 people in 31 countries, flexible work options are here to stay. Some 73% of workers want flexible and remote work options on a permanent basis, while 67% want more in-person time with their workmates than strict remote work provides.
“Over the past year, no area has undergone more rapid transformation than the way we work,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “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.”
Interestingly, the study also found that business leaders were somewhat out of touch with their employees, thriving with remote work more than the average employee. This results in a lack of understanding about the challenges many employees still face.
In addition, the business leaders were “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.”
Other findings include the impact of remote productivity, resulting in a more exhausted workforce. Without the structure of the office, many calls, meetings and videoconferences are unstructured and unplanned, and many meetings are going longer. All of this results in workers who are more exhausted, feeling the strain of always be available digitally.
Similarly, Gen Z is finding the transition to a remote workplace particularly challenging. Because of their age, many in this generation are single and just embarking on their careers. As a result, they often struggle with the isolation and lack of networking options more than their older, more established counterparts.
Microsoft’s survey is an in-depth look at what is working, and what still needs work, in the current workplace and is a must-read for any team leader or executive.