Business Leaders Out of Step With Employees on Hybrid Work’s Effects

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While there seems to be consensus that the world of work will be markedly different once the Covid-19 pandemic ebbs, precisely what that world will look like, and what it will encompass, remains up in the air.

One issue seems to lie with management, as in corporate leaders. A report from Microsoft, the 2021 Work Trend Index, says executives are pretty happy right now, with 61% describing themselves as “thriving.” Their subordinates, however: Not so much. Just 38% of employees without decision-making authority are as optimistic as their leaders. They’re also less likely to build strong relationships with colleagues and also less likely to take vacation days.

What the post-Covid world of work will look like is still up in the air. One challenge: Out-of-touch executives. Really. @Microsoft #HR #HRTech Click To Tweet

One more thing: While Microsoft believes hybrid work is all but inevitable, it found that 42% of employees lack basic office supplies at home. Ten percent don’t have an adequate Internet connection.

The Vision Thing

Thriving executives making decisions for undersupplied workers could be particularly problematic when new approaches to work are being imagined and budgeted. Employers shouldn’t assume only a few iterative steps are necessary to build an engaged, efficient and productive workforce, Microsoft said. Instead, a “rethinking of long-held assumptions” will be necessary, as well as attention to unglamorous, but fundamental, workforce needs—like office supplies. 

Some 37% of global workers told Microsoft their companies are asking too much of them in the midst of the crisis. One in five say their employer doesn’t care about their work-life balance, while 54% feel overworked and 39% say they’re exhausted.

One reason for all this is an increased workload. “Signals” from Microsoft 365 show that employees are spending more time working digitally, Microsoft said, with the average number of meetings and chats steadily increasing since last year. Between February 2020 and February 2021, time spent in Microsoft Teams meetings more than doubled, the average meeting became 10 minutes longer and chat rose more than 40%. Nearly two-thirds, 62% of these calls and meetings were unscheduled or ad hoc.

Despite all this, workers like the idea of hybrid work, with 73% wanting flexible remote-work options to continue. And many seem to believe hybrid work will provide them with more options in terms of finding an employer that suits them: Over 40% are considering leaving their company this year, and 46% plan to move now that remote work is an option. Said the report: “Addressing flexible work will impact who stays, who goes and who joins a company.”

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