The findings from the Microsoft 2022 Work Trend Index have reiterated the definitive shift from remote to hybrid work. However, it has also highlighted the lack of readiness to adapt the new ways of working and meet the changing expectations of talent.
In the year ahead, many hybrid employees (51%) say they will consider a switch to remote, and even more remote employees (57%) say they’ll consider a switch to hybrid.
Jared Spataro - Corporate Vice President for Modern Work said, "Hybrid work requires a deliberate, thoughtful approach. While so much relies on new cultural norms, the transition will benefit from technologies designed for this hybrid world — ones that bridge the digital and physical, ensuring every employee can engage and contribute, regardless of where, when or how they’re working."
Keeping pace with new expectations: A key leadership challenge
The survey found 53% of people are now more likely to prioritise their health and well-being overwork. In fact, 18% of respondents quit their jobs last year. Going forward, 52% of Gen Z and millennials are likely to consider a new job in the next year. Alas! The great resignation continues.
Add to it the ongoing tussle between employees and leadership expectations. 54% of managers feel leadership is out of touch with employee expectations and 74% percent don’t feel they have the influence or resources they need to implement change for their team.
Managers seek more support and empowerment from leadership to navigate through the requirements of hybrid work. For instance, 50% of leaders say they have plans for a full in-person return to the office this year. But are employees ready for this change?
38% of hybrid employees say their biggest challenge is knowing when and why to come into the office, yet only 28% of leaders have created new team agreements for hybrid work.
Is the return to work worth it?
Managers and leaders need to rethink the role of the office and identify meaningful reasons to have in-person meetups. The intention should be to make employees feel connected, engaged and enable them to do their best work.
Given that 43% of remote workers do not feel included in meetings and only 27% of leaders say their companies have developed hybrid meeting etiquette, the policies around hybrid work are still missing.
To ensure alignment among the frontline, in-office and at-home employees leaders have to be trained to manage hybrid meetings. Additionally, they need to learn the art of consistent and transparent communication.
While a majority of hybrid workers have been able to maintain their team bonds (58%), only half of remote workers say they have a thriving relationship with their direct team and even fewer (42%) have a strong relationship with those outside their team.
As hybrid work becomes the norm and employees demand it, a lot more work needs to be done to make the new way of working a part of the company's DNA. From overnight transitions to careful transformations, organisations need to prioritise employee connection, collaboration, communication, and leadership development and drive better performance with hybrid work models.