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The Next Great Disruption: New Report Says Flexibility & Hybrid Work Will Define The Post-Pandemic


Microsoft recently published an article detailing the benefits and drawbacks of the transition to hybrid work, which involves some employees returning to the office while others continue to work from home.


Microsoft is calling it another “great disruption”, like that of last years sudden switch to remote work.


For some, remote work has opened up new career prospects, provided more family time, and given them the option of whether or not to commute. However, there will be difficulties ahead. This year has seen a rise in team silos, and digital exhaustion is a real and unsustainable concern.


With over 40 percent of the global workforce considering leaving their employer this year, a thoughtful approach to hybrid work will be critical for attracting and retaining diverse talent. To aid organizations through the transition, the 2021 Work Trend Index outlines findings from a study of more than 30,000 people in 31 countries and an analysis of trillions of productivity and labor signals across Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn. Experts who have spent decades studying collaboration, social capital, and workplace space design have also contributed their thoughts.


7 Trends That Will Shape the Future of a Hybrid Workforce


1. Flexible work is here to stay

  • 66% of business decision-makers are contemplating physical space redesigns to better suit hybrid work settings.

2. Leaders are out of touch with their people

  • Most leaders are tackling the challenges of remote work for the first time, with 77% of leaders reporting that they’ve never managed a fully remote team, and 89% having never managed a partially remote team.

  • Many corporate leaders are doing better than their workforce. 61% of leaders say they are “thriving” right now, a 23-point increase over those without decision-making authority.

3. High productivity is disguising an exhausted workforce

  • One-fifth of respondents in a global poll claim their boss doesn't care about their work-life balance, 54% of people say they are overworked, and 39% of people say they are exhausted.

4. Gen Z is in danger and will need to be re-energized

  • 60% of this group — those aged 18 to 25 — say they are just scraping by or are in desperate need of help right now.

5. Networks are collapsing, putting innovation in jeopardy

  • According to anonymized collaboration trends from billions of Outlook emails and Microsoft Teams sessions, the transition to remote collaboration shrank our networks.

  • The pandemic-related isolation that many are experiencing in their personal lives is also revealing itself at work.

6. Authenticity will stimulate productivity and wellbeing

  • When compared to a year ago, 39% of people say they're more likely to be their full, real selves at work, and 31% say they're less likely to be embarrassed or humiliated when their personal lives show up at work.

  • However, Black and Latino workers in the United States reported more difficulties than the general population in forming relationships, feeling included, and bringing their genuine selves to work.

7. In a hybrid workplace, talent is everywhere.

  • One of the most positive aspects of the shift to remote work is that it expands the talent pool. During the pandemic, the number of remote job listings on LinkedIn grew by more than fivefold.

  • The survey found that 46% of remote workers expect to relocate this year because of their ability to work from anywhere.

  • Diverse candidates are more interested in remote opportunities. Women, Generation Z, and those without a graduate degree are more likely to apply for remote jobs on LinkedIn than on-site jobs.

These trends illustrate that we are no longer constrained by traditional conceptions of geography and time in order to collaborate. Instead, we can let go of long-held beliefs and adapt our mental model to accommodate tremendous flexibility.


Business leaders can rewire their operational model for a successful shift to hybrid work using these five tactics:

  1. Develop a strategy to empower people for extreme flexibility

  2. Invest in technology and space to connect the physical and digital worlds

  3. Address digital exhaustion from the top down

  4. Rebuild social capital and culture as a strategic priority

  5. To compete for the greatest and most diverse talent, rethink the employee experience

Employees are revaluating priorities, home bases, and their entire lives as a result of so much change in the last year. More people are exploring their next move, whether it's due to less networking or job progression opportunities, a new calling, pent-up demand, or a slew of pandemic-related issues. Who remains, who leaves, and who eventually seeks to join your company will be influenced by how firms handle the next phase of work — embracing the positives and learning from the challenges of the previous year.


If you would like to read the full article and download the full report published by Microsoft, please find it here.


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