Microsoft revealed the data of the new edition of the Work Trend Index: “Great Expectations: Making Work Work“. The 2022 version of the research, which includes one Italian cross-sectionhighlights the new awareness of employees, who after two years of remote work require their employers new ways of organizing the company, as well as greater flexibility and free time, to give added value to the new landscape of work and return to the office .
Microsoft presents the Work Trend Index
Microsoft’s second annual study combines the results of a survey conducted on 31,000 people in 31 countries – including Italy – along with an analysis of productivity data from Microsoft 365 tools and job trends on LinkedIn, which they bring out five key trends:
The pivotal points of how, where and when to work are changing, and so is why. In fact, following the last two years, employees have a new vision of what they want from work and what they are willing to sacrifice for it. Microsoft’s survey strongly underlines this trend, with the 54% of Italians are now more likely to prioritize their health and well-being with respect to work. This trend is also reflected in the data on respondents who left their jobs last year: 17% in Italy, almost one in five. The so-called “Great Reshuffle” is far from over and also affects the beautiful country, albeit to a slightly lesser extent than globally: 37% of workers declare that will probably consider a new job in the next year (globally it is 43%). A phenomenon that mainly affects the younger groups: 49% of Gen Z and Italian Millennialsan increase compared to the 46% which stated the same in 2021.
Keeping up with new employee expectations is no small feat. In this perspective, managers act as a link between the demands of the leadership team and the needs of the employees. It will therefore be necessary for managers to know how to act to protect company productivity, without neglecting the problems and requests of employees. For example, despite the undeniable desire for flexibility that transpires from the research (41% of workers consider switching to remote or hybrid ways of working in the next year), the 47% of Italian executives say their company expects to return to the office full-time in 2022. This tension falls on managers: 56% argue that corporate leadership is not aligned with employee expectations. It therefore becomes important to be able to give managers greater autonomy so that they can manage their work teams in the best possible way: in Italy 71% of managers would like to have more room for maneuver to manage the change of teams.
Now that we have experienced the benefits of working remotely, the challenge for leaders is to motivate employees to return to the office as well, finding new stimuli and opportunities. Indeed, today 33% of “hybrid” workers in Italy find it difficult to understand when and why to work from the office. Faced with this situation, only 27% of Italian executives have entered into new corporate agreements for hybrid work. It is therefore time to rethink the role of the office, adopting new methods and agreements on the management of flows and in-person meetings. These new rules will need to ensure that office space is enriching for employees, helping them feel connected and part of the company.
At this stage in which companies are rethinking their boundaries, it is interesting to note how even the digital experience can be rethought: the 46% of employees in Italy declare themselves open to exploiting immersive digital spaces in the metaverse for future meetings.
Analysis of productivity data in Microsoft 365 shows that meetings and chats are on the rise, often extending beyond traditional business hours. Indeed, the weekly average Time spent in meetings on Teams globally has increased 252% since March 2020, and extra-time and weekend work grew by 28% and 14%, respectively. While it is certainly stimulating to see how people have been able to reshape their day to meet work and personal needs, on the other hand, it is necessary to ensure that flexible work also becomes sustainable and respects certain limits. For this reason, new company-wide regulations will be needed to regulate hybrid or remote work.
One of the aspects most impacted by remote work is certainly the effect it has had on personal relationships. Last year the Work Trend Index conducted by Microsoft revealed that teams have felt more isolated, and this trend is confirmed again this year: the 54% of Italian “hybrid” workers, in fact, say they feel a greater sense of loneliness in the workplace than in the pre-pandemic period. Not by chance according to 49% of executives interviewed in Italy, the main challenge of the era of hybrid or remote work will be the ability to hire employees in relationship activities and to build a sense of community at the company level. It is particularly important to find adequate tools for the empowerment of people, for the insertion of new resources and for retaining talents who work in hybrid or remote mode: 53% of hired in a pandemic era in Italy he is more inclined to change companies in the next year.
While much of the functioning of the hybrid work model will depend on the new business policies that will be implemented by organizations, today the transition benefits from technologies designed to facilitate work in the hybrid landscape. In support of this, Microsoft today announced some product news:
- To make scheduling meetings easier and help teams understand when to be in the office, Microsoft is launching the new feature Outlook RSVPwhich will allow users to confirm their presence at the meeting in person or remotely;
- The feature of language translation in Teams allows interpreters to translate what the presenter says into another language in near real time. The meeting organizer can assign interpreters and select up to 16 source and target language combinations;
- To bridge the gap between digital and physical workspaces, a new meeting layout for Teams Rooms, Front Rowis now available in preview;
- Connecting teams with Surface Hub has always been easy. Thanks to the new updates of the Microsoft Teams and Whiteboard experiences, and with the addition of the new Microsoft Surface Hub 2 Smart Camera – Microsoft’s first AI-powered camera – Surface Hub benefits extend to remote meeting participants to provide them with a dynamic view of interactions within the room;
- To extend the collaboration synergistically with people outside the company, Teams Connect now allows you to start chats and meetings even with people outside the organization in a safe and reliable way;
- Microsoft’s new Viva Insights resource, Inspiration Libraryaims to help managers define the new normal for their team by providing insights and best practices from Microsoft and other experts from the likes of Harvard Business Review and Thrive to improve their productivity and well-being.
If you would like to learn more, Microsoft’s complete Work Trend Index report is available at this link.