Hybrid work is the dominant future of work model; even Zoom, who’s business has boomed as a result of pandemic-forced remote work, is embracing a hybrid approach.
The reason, according to new data from Microsoft, is that hybrid is coming out ahead of fully in-person and fully remote work because it does a better job at balancing flexibility with in-person connection.
Microsoft’s research suggests that when organizations are deciding on the specifics of their hybrid working policy, they should focus less on the number of days people are in the office, and instead get more intentional about having people working in-person in the “moments that matter”.
The report stated: “As organizations embrace this transformative model, they unlock their capacity to increase productivity, enhance employee satisfaction, and create a more inclusive workforce.
“Remote work has benefits, and in-person time does too.
“Every team is different, but one thing is clear: finding this balance must be approached with intentionality.
“Rather than considering the office as a one-size-fits-all solution, teams should consider the type of work they do and determine key points in time or reasons to gather in person.”
The “moments that matter” at Microsoft
Based on data from its own internal engagement surveys, Microsoft’s report noted three examples of in-person “moments that matter”: building relationships within (and outside) your team, onboarding of talent into a new role or a new team, and kicking off a project.
While 92% of Microsoft employees believe that their company values flexibility and trusts them to work where is best for them, and 93% are confident in their ability to work as a team regardless of location, they still crave social connection.
And when asked what types of team activities they’d like, 37% said they wanted social and team building activities – that was the number one theme in the engagement survey.
The report found that Microsoft employees who spent six or more days per month in the office with their team had a slightly higher engagement score than those who did not spend any time in the office.
In-person connection was particularly good for their alignment on team goals, as well as wellbeing and productivity.
These findings were mirrored by Microsoft’s latest Work Trends Index, which surveyed 20,000 people globally.
73% said they needed a better reason to go into the office than just company expectations, 84% would be motivated by the promise of socializing, and 85% wanted to rebuild team bonds.
73% said they would be more likely to go to the office if they knew their direct team were there – this rose slightly to 74% for work friends.
Ultimately, it is clear that social connection is worth the commute for employees – and this is particularly key when they are new in the organization (or have recently changed teams), and when teams are kicking off a new project.
Those who met their managers within their first 90 days in the organization (or that team), were more likely to seek feedback and build stronger relationships with their colleagues.
The report stated: “The quicker that new hires develop trust with their managers and teammates, the quicker they can become productive contributors and collaborators with the team and the company.”
Kicking off a project also benefitted from in-person collaboration – it helped generative 14% more ideas, and 18% more creativity, than virtual work.
That’s what works for Microsoft, but, in the report, the tech giant’s head of people analytics Dawn Klinghoffer recommended that every employer asks their workers what moments matter to them, and lean into that when thinking about the hybrid current and of work.
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