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How biggest workplace trends of 2022 will shape the future of work

How biggest workplace trends of 2022 will shape the future of work

The future of work is here and now and leaders need to adopt new approaches to make the hybrid workplace experience more meaningful for each employee.

Organisations can only solve this hybrid work paradox by going beyond the binary and embracing flexibility across their entire operating model. Organisations can only solve this hybrid work paradox by going beyond the binary and embracing flexibility across their entire operating model.

The past year has witnessed massive changes at work - it's no longer just about when, where and how we work but also why we work. Hybrid operating models are being adopted at an unprecedented rate. 

And no two hybrid work structures are the same - ranging from companies maintaining permanent centralised offices to entirely doing away with offices and relying on co-working spaces or meeting rooms to support the needs of employees. 

A new relationship between the employer and the employee is emerging - it's a new social contract. Every organisation now is coming up with a unique approach to meet its people's needs. 

The Microsoft Work Trend Index Report indicates that 74% of Indian employees want more flexible remote work options; at the same time, 73% of them are also craving in-person time with colleagues. 
Organisations can only solve this hybrid work paradox by going beyond the binary and embracing flexibility across their entire operating model.

Also Read: How Covid-19 Has Changed the Concept of Work, Workplace and Workforce

A reimagination of the hybrid workplace will require new categories of technology to empower people, encompassing the ways they work, the places from where they work and the approach to business processes.   

The future of work is here and now - and leaders need to adopt new approaches to make the hybrid workplace experience more meaningful for each employee.

1. Model flexibility at all levels: Employees want the best of both worlds. Work is no longer tied to a single address. It will be imperative to ensure employees have extreme flexibility to work when and where they want and are equipped with the tech tools, they need to equally contribute from wherever they happen to be.

No two people will have similar work styles; so, organisations will need to find ways to accommodate that diversity and enable everyone to invest in a shared environment. That's how authentic hybrid workplaces will emerge where everyone can do their best work. 

2. Rebuild the employee experience: Enabling a shared experience can benefit from investing in tools that are purpose-built for hybrid work. Employee experience platforms can create a digital fabric that connects teams through shared knowledge and culture, wherever they are in the physical space.

Earlier this year Microsoft was recognised by Forrester as an innovator in employee experience and intelligent content services, thanks to enhancements to its collaboration, communication and compliance capabilities including the Microsoft Viva employee experience platform. In a year when we sent 160,000 people home to work and remotely onboarded 25,000 new employees, 90% of employees reported feeling included at Microsoft.  

Also Read: Firms see hybrid work curtailing office space expansion

3. Promote inclusive workplaces: Organisations need to ensure that no matter where employees work, they feel like they belong and they're being included in conversations. Putting a beyond-binary mindset into practice helps create opportunities for ownership, whether through chat or collaborative cloud apps or asynchronous meeting experiences that bring people together in new ways. If culture is made up of the small everyday actions of each employee, how we handle the deluge of hybrid meetings each day has never been more important.

At Microsoft, we continue to evolve Microsoft Teams to help put everyone on an equal footing in meetings. We've also developed hybrid meeting guidance to help ensure that remote and in-person meeting attendees feel equally empowered to participate. Meeting rooms and team culture will need to evolve so that all voices are heard.  

4. Prioritise social capital and culture: Broadening networks and building social capital take effort in any work environment, but it's even more difficult in a hybrid world. Teams must reframe network-building from being passive to a proactive effort, encourage and reward managers to prioritise building social capital at work, and seek to create a culture where social support thrives. With our employee experience platform Microsoft Viva, for example, we're bringing together one-to-one and one-to-many communications to keep everyone engaged and informed and maintain that connection between employees and the company and its mission.  

5. Focus on well-being: Digital overload is rising: the time spent in Microsoft Teams meetings has more than doubled globally, 62% of Teams calls and meetings are unscheduled or conducted ad hoc and the average Teams meeting is 10 minutes longer, up from 35 to 45 minutes year-over-year. Well-being is ultimately a function of biology and psychology.

We cannot ignore the basics: everyone needs enough sleep, daily exercise, healthy food, and hydration. High-quality, loving connections with people outside of work must be a top priority. As we all navigate the ebb and flow of hybrid work, leaders need to focus on keeping these foundational elements within reach of their teams and themselves.  

These trends may seem daunting but they create an opportunity for organisations to build new workplace norms that not only lead to greater fulfillment for employees but also better business outcomes. 

It is imperative for organisations to move beyond long-held assumptions and shift their model to embrace extreme flexibility. We should take what we've learned from the past and use it to chart a path forward to make hybrid work truly work.  

(The author is Chief Operating Officer, Microsoft India.)