The pandemic has led to one of the biggest reshufflings in the concept of ‘work’. Today, a workplace is no longer just a physical location, a workforce is no longer just a group of people operating at the same time and space. The defining trait of this new world of work is that there is no single standard or blueprint for operating.
One of the biggest questions that leaders are facing today is how to build culture and keep employees meaningfully engaged in a hybrid environment. Technology is playing a central role in this context, functioning as a digital equalizer to meet the different needs of different people. Inclusion, well-being, flexibility, and accessibility have taken on a new meaning during hybrid work, especially when half of us are working from home and the other half is in a physical location. Our focus at Microsoft has always been on designing technology experiences that empower individuals and organizations to achieve more, whether at home or at work. The future of work is here and now. The big question is how can we build a better world of work for everyone together? Here are some thought starters.
Building social capital
Human connection and bonds with co-workers are a fundamental part of the workplace experience. Findings from Microsoft’s Work Trend Index Report 2022 finds that 91% of employees in India would be motivated to come to office by the promise of socializing with coworkers and 92% by the prospect of rebuilding team bonds. Organizations need to embrace the fact that those people come in for each other. You have to give people a good reason – beyond policy – to go into the office. Building social capital and investing in team bonds are critical for people to do their best work. And technology plays a critical role in creating connections wherever, whenever, and however people work.
Investing in learning
In today’s rapidly evolving environment, investing in employee learning and development is business critical for an organization’s success. Our research shows that if employees in India received more internal learning and development support, 90% of them would stay at their company longer. The data is clear-If people cannot learn; they leave. Every company needs to build a learning culture and provide opportunities for employees to upskill and reskill
Ending the productivity paranoia
The return to office has been very challenging for most organizations in India, as managers and employees struggle with when and how work needs to get done. 87% of employees report they are productive at work, while 85% of leaders say the shift to hybrid work has made it challenging to have confidence that people are being productive. This has led to productivity paranoia, where leaders are uneasy about whether people are being productive and working on the right things, even though hours worked, numbers of meetings, and other activity metrics increase. It doesn’t help that 47% of employees in India report that they are already burnt out at work. With hybrid work, there is a strong need to redefine ‘productivity’ and balance employee needs with organizational priorities.
Tech-enabled solutions are the way-forward in hybrid work
Hybrid isn't just one thing,- it’s people working remote, from the office, on their mobile device, and all manner of combinations of those. In a hybrid world, companies need a new, modern approach to engaging employees, and technology plays a critical role. While every organization will define its unique approach to hybrid work, what is clear is that it will need to be grounded in flexibility, wellbeing, and inclusion, to empower employees to do their best work. While so much relies on new cultural norms, we need to rely on technologies designed for this hybrid world — ones that bridge the digital and physical, ensuring every employee can engage and contribute in a meaningful way, regardless of where, when, or how they’re working.
The author is Country Head - Modern Work, Microsoft India
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