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Microsoft employees plan to spend more time in office than managers expect

Microsoft employees plan to spend more time in office than managers expect

An internal pulse survey conducted among over 1,60,000 Microsoft employees says 35 per cent of managers believe they have no personal preference for how often employees come to the office, aside from the company policy

Among employees, who said they plan to spend more than 90% of their working time at the office, 58 per cent said “focused work” was the top reason, says the survey. Photo: Reuters Among employees, who said they plan to spend more than 90% of their working time at the office, 58 per cent said “focused work” was the top reason, says the survey. Photo: Reuters

Some Microsoft employees are planning to go to work more than managers expect them to once offices re-open fully, according to an internal pulse survey conducted among more than 1,60,000 employees across 100 countries and released on Thursday. The findings were announced on the day the company decided to postpone reopening its offices from October 4 to whenever it becomes safe to do so.

As many as 8 per cent of employees said they plan to come to the office every day, while only 1 per cent of managers expect the same of their team members. While 48 per cent of employees said they plan to come to the office 3 to 4 times per week, only 28 per cent of managers have that expectation of their team.

The 1-2 days per week bracket appears to have more consensus as 31 per cent of employees chose this as their answer, closer to the 25 per cent of managers who expect the same of their team.

Finally, 35 per cent of managers said they have no personal preference for how often employees come to the office, aside from the company policy. Employees were not given that option in the survey.

One-on-one communication between the manager and employees could be the key to sidestepping potential friction due to gaps in work styles and expectations, the report said.

As many as 97 per cent of Microsoft employees who’ve had a discussion with their manager about how they work best said their manager supports their desired work style, which is 7 percentage points higher than among employees who have not yet had this conversation.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has unearthed yet another conundrum over return-to-work sentiments among its employees in the internal pulse survey, indicating that flexibility is crucial in the future of work.

Among employees, who said they plan to spend more than 90% of their working time at the office, 58 per cent said “focused work” was the top reason. On the other hand, among employees who said they plan to spend more than 90 per cent of their working time working from home, an identical 58 per cent mentioned “focused work” as the reason.

In short, the tech giant noted in its report, some employees cite work-life balance, focused time, and meetings as reasons to go into the office, while others cite those same considerations as reasons to stay home. Through polar opposite work styles, they’re seeking the same benefit.

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“Our new data shows there is no one-size-fits-all approach to hybrid work, as employee expectations continue to change. The only way for organisations to solve this complexity is to embrace flexibility across their entire operating model, including the ways people work, the places they inhabit and how they approach business process,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

In June this year, Microsoft’s Work Trend Index India Findings showed that 74 per cent of Indian employees want more flexible work options and 73 per cent of them want to spend time with colleagues. In what CEO Satya Nadella called the Hybrid Work Paradox, the Indian white-collar workforce wants more flexible remote work options, while also simultaneously craving more in-person time with their teams.

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The tech giant unveiled the findings while announcing a few more additional features to its MS Teams app and Outlook email service. Some of the new features include Cameo, which integrates the camera feed into a PowerPoint presentation, being shared on Teams, a hotdesking option on Teams and Outlook to be available on Lenovo devices for locating and reserving flexible workspaces in the offices, and a new Outlook RSVP feature that lets people specify whether they will attend a meeting in-person or online.

It also announced a few design changes to Teams in June to be rolled out over the course of the year in a bid to make its video conferencing tools stay relevant even in a hybrid work setup.

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