Microsoft has shared a number of insights about how remote work has become the “new normal,” and updated several apps to reflect that.
Like many companies, Microsoft was working to bring employees back into the office starting in October. With the surge in Delta cases, however, the company is not only pushing back its return to the office date, but is no longer projecting a new target. Instead, according to Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Modern Work, the company recognizes “our ability to come together will ebb and flow,” and will simply base its decisions on public health guidance moving forward.
The company also reveals that, while its research shows that most employees crave in-person time at work, many still want to maintain the flexibility of remote work. There are also disparities between the amount of time managers and employees want to be in the office. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella refers to these complexities as the Hybrid Work Paradox.
Despite any challenges, however, Spataro says “going forward, the digital employee experience is the employee experience.” The company is rolling out updates to multiples apps and services to better reflect that reality.
Microsoft Teams will receive AI-enabled cameras, active speaker tracking and people recognition. Outlook will gain a new Outlook RSVP feature so individuals can specific whether they will attend in-person or digitally, as well as redesigned Working hours to better accommodate and notify others of flexible work schedules. The company will also make the Microsoft Viva Connections mobile app available as a public preview later this month.
It’s clear Microsoft is all-in on hybrid remote, accepting it as the new reality and determined “to take a learn-it-all approach, and lead with data rather than dogma.”