Microsoft's 2021 Work Trend Index - What Business Leaders Should Know

Microsoft has released their 2021 Work Trend Index, sharing useful analytics that give insight into how a hybrid approach to the workplace has created "the next great disruption" in the workplace. Throughout organizations across nearly every industry, now is the time to pause and evaluate your approach to technology, team management, and your team's business processes. The last year has brought plenty of challenges, but every workplace challenge is an opportunity for growth and advancement in disguise - if handled properly. 

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Flexible work is part of the "new normal."

Recent reports show that employees are divided between the comforts of working remotely and the social interaction that time in the office brings. While 73 percent of workers are in favor of a flexible work routine going forward, 67 percent are also wanting more face-to-face interactions with their team. The key to success in this revamped workplace is to create a space that fosters inclusion and collaboration across mediums, connecting remote workers with those in the office and creating a positive environment of productivity for every employee.

66 percent of leaders claim that their company is planning to revitalize their physical workspace in preparation for a return to the office, but investments shouldn't be prioritizing in-office workers above their remote counterparts. Data shows that employers continue to neglect their remote workforce, often failing to provide any financial assistance for the proper equipment needed to do their job each day - even 1 in 10 employees claim that they don't have an internet connection sufficient enough to work each day. Leaders must establish a baseline to ensure that every member of the team - remote, in-office, or hybrid - are given the support structure they need to find success.


Employee fatigue is real.

Let's not mince words - a global pandemic has taken an emotional and mental toll. Throughout a historical event, employees have continued to work and support their team. It seems that gusto is beginning to wear thin. 37 percent of the global workforce believes that their company is asking too much of them currently while 54 percent feel overworked. Employees also aren't feeling the support from management that they deserve. One in five employees believe that their work-life balance isn't a priority for their employer, and the Microsoft 365 data is there to back that claim. 

Time spent chatting and calling in Teams more than doubled and continues to rise, supporting longer meetings and generating 45 percent more chats (including 42 percent more chats after business hours.) In other words, the workforce is working harder than ever before to provide for their clients and support their goals. 


Workplaces are becoming more siloed.

When many companies shifted to a remote structure in March 2020, employees immediately felt a stronger sense of connection with their immediate team - after all, we're all in this together! Over time, as some employees return to the office and others remain remote, greater connectivity has shifted to a greater divide between in-office and remote workers. 

Microsoft's data shows that employees aren't connecting with their extended team and are instead spending more time collaborating with their closest counterparts. This creates silos within organizations that often increase the potential to fall into groupthink that dampens the potential for true innovation. Fewer water cooler talks and hallway chats lead to fewer chances to see external perspectives - something that could greatly hold back the potential for companies to innovate and discover new opportunities. 


Workforce potential is better than ever.

For every open position, there are thousands of employees around the world that would be considered "perfect" for the job. The unfortunate reality is that many of those potential golden opportunities are turned away because of their location. Once employers successfully establish hybrid workplaces and remote work capabilities as a norm rather than an exception, location is completely taken out of the equation of finding a new team member. 

man in blue and white plaid dress shirt using macbook proData shows that Gen Z, those 18 to 25, are more likely to apply for remote positions, showing that the workforce of the future doesn't place as much value on a physical workspace as they do on the flexibility of hybrid work. With 41 percent of the global workforce considering leaving their current position within the next year and 46 percent planning to make a major career transition, the shifts in personal goals, workplace values, and eligibility are important elements that hiring managers and leaders must consider when planning the future of their company.

2020 broke down many of the age-old expectations of the workplace, but 2021 is a year to rebuild. Deeper technology integrations, a focus on work-life balance and personal satisfaction, and a true hybrid workspace may have been options, but they'll soon be necessities. Companies that embrace these shifts and become a part of the solutions will immediately stand out from the crowd as innovators that are embracing the future rather than holding it back. 

If you're ready to align your technology with the latest workplace trends and expectations, SeedSpark can help. Our team works to provide proactive managed IT services, custom application development, and digital marketing services to create scalable growth for small- to medium-sized businesses. Ready to get started? Great, so are we.

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Tags: Technology

Written by Samuel Adams

As a lifelong fan of technology, Sam has always had a deep interest in learning about the latest innovations and how they are revolutionizing the worlds of business, marketing, and entertainment. As Social Media and Content Specialist at SeedSpark, he spends time chasing the newest trends and breakthroughs pushing the digital transformation in our personal and professional lives.

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