Managing people

Making hybrid work work

The pandemic introduced us to working from home, and now it's about how to make hybrid work. Read on for the latest findings.  

23 March 2022

Employees have a new “worth it” equation, and there’s no going back, according to the Microsoft Work Trend Index report “Great Expectations: Making Hybrid Work Work.” The company also announced new features to empower hybrid work and address employees’ new expectations for the workplace. 

After sitting on the cusp of hybrid work for more than a year, many companies are at a long-awaited inflection point: hybrid work’s lived experience. 

One thing from the research is clear. We are not the same people who went home to work in early 2020. The past two years have left a lasting imprint, fundamentally changing how people define the role of work in their lives. The challenge ahead for every organisation is to meet employees’ great new expectations head-on while balancing business outcomes in an unpredictable economy. 

To help leaders navigate the shift, the report outlines five trends from an external study of 31,000 people in 31 countries and an analysis of trillions of productivity signals in Microsoft 365 and labour trends on LinkedIn.

Five key trends 

  1. Employees have a new “worth it” equation. Fifty-one% of Australian employees say they’re more likely to prioritise their health and well-being overwork than before the pandemic. And the Great Reshuffle isn’t over. 48% of Australian Generation Z and millennials are likely to consider changing employers year ahead, up six% year over year. 
  2. Managers feel wedged between leadership and employee expectations. Fifty% of Australian leaders say their companies are planning a return to full-time in-person work in the year ahead. Fifty-nine% of Australian managers say leadership at their companies is out of touch with employee expectations, and 71% say they don’t have the influence or resources to drive change for their teams. 
  3. Leaders need to make the office worth the commute: 36% of Australian hybrid employees say their biggest challenge is knowing when and why to come into the office. Yet, only 26% of Australian leaders have created team agreements to define these new norms. 
  4. Flexible work doesn’t have to mean “always-on”. After two years, weekly meeting time for the average Teams user (globally) is up 252%, and chats sent per person each week is up 32% – and still climbing. While the workday span has increased by 46 minutes, after-hours and weekend work are 28% and 14%, respectively. 
  5. Rebuilding social capital looks different in a hybrid world. With 42% of Australian hybrid employees considering a shift to complete remote work in the year ahead, companies cannot rely solely on the office to recoup the social capital we’ve lost over the past two years. Forty-three% of leaders say relationship-building is the greatest challenge of having employees work in a hybrid or remote environment. 

“There’s no erasing the lived experience and lasting impact of the past two years, as flexibility and well-being have become non-negotiables for employees,” said Jared Spataro, corporate vice president, Modern Work, Microsoft.

“By embracing and adapting to these new expectations, organisations can set their people and business up for long-term success.” 

Siobhann Provost

Senior Writer, My Business

Siobhann has over 18 years human resources business partnering experience in large organisations. She more recently established and led a people advice team of senior workplace advisors before moving into content writing.

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