Microsoft's findings on remote work are on point, but hybrid is NOT the next disruption ❌
Microsoft has come up with an interesting & detailed report basis findings from its first annual work trend index. It's by far the largest remote work dataset that anyone has analysed in the past year - 30,000 people in 31 countries & trillions of signals across Microsoft 365 & LinkedIn!
Some of the findings from the report are eye-opening while others just validate our existing assumptions. But what concerns me most is the solution hinted at - hybrid work where only a part of employees work remotely, while others work in office.
We will get to why I see that as a huge problem, but first let me share a summary of the findings.
Findings from Microsoft's Annual Work Trend Index
1) Flexible work is inevitable & here to stay
This is established across every report now & even this report (with the largest dataset) validates it - Majority (70%) of people want flexible remote work options. However, 65% of people also said that they crave more in-person time with their teams.
2) Managers need a wake-up call since they are out of touch with their employees
Managers are thriving in a remote setting while their reportees aren't doing well. 61% leaders said they are faring well, whereas only 38% of employees said so.
3) Productivity is higher but people are exhausted due to digital overload
Over the last year:
- Time spent in MS Team meetings is 2.5x globally
- Average meeting duration is 10 mins longer
- # of emails delivered is up by 40 billion
- 45% more chats sent/week by an MS Teams user
4) Authenticity in company culture will boost productivity & wellbeing
2020 was a tough year for everyone but people found new ways to bond with each other.
- 20% met their colleagues' families or pets virtually
- 17% cried (shared emotion) with a coworker on call
5) Employees are considering leaving their current employer for remote work
A staggering 41% employees said they are considering to leave their current employer in 2021 for a company that offers remote work!
LinkedIn data also indicated that diverse applicants including women, those without a degree & Gen Z are more likely to favour remote roles.
Hybrid remote isn't the solution, it is at best a temporary fix
Now here's where I strongly differ from what the report infers & suggests as the way forward.
1) The next great disruption is hybrid remote - Wrong!
Yes, people are craving more in-person time with colleagues. The solution to that is more frequent collaboration in the form of quarterly catchups, team & company retreats, attending conferences together etc.
1/ Hybrid will be the popular choice but not everyone will get the chance to work remotely
😓 Most companies are scared to try all-remote since they've also seen the challenges with remote.
🤙 They will instead opt for hybrid but managers will decide who works remotely & when.
Having half the people in-office & the other half remote just creates a divide or class among employees. Moreover, restrictions like asking employees to stay within commuting distance of an allotted office are just oppressive!
2) Remote = lost connections. Hence, it's hard to get in new ideas - Wrong!
There's plenty of amazing ways & tools to brainstorm & innovate in a virtual setting. Moreover, that's a minuscule part of most people's day-to-day work.
Rather than forcing people into the office on the basis of this argument, companies should find ways to innovate virtually & make occasional in-person collaborations happen.
In conclusion, Microsoft's new report surely brings some valid points to the fore - something most companies need to hear & take a note of. However, I would not make the mistake of taking their word on hybrid being the next disruption.