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The future of work is hybrid

Flexible work is here to stay. How can companies prepare for this shift?
A female sitting on her laptop having a Zoom call with her coworkers

As remote work became the norm in 2020, many were thrilled to ditch the commute and now want to work from home forever; others were hit with “Zoom exhaustion” and can’t wait to go back to the office; and some want a mix of both.

In a recent Microsoft report, the tech giant says “hybrid work”—where some work in the office and others work from home—is the way of the future. Through a study of more than 30,000 people in 31 countries, Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index highlights trends to consider as we enter an era of hybrid work. Here are a few key takeaways:

Flexible work is here to stay. Workers want the best of both worlds—more than 70% want remote work options, while more than 65% crave more in-person time. As a result, 66% of businesses are considering redesigning physical spaces to better accommodate hybrid work.

Business leaders are out of touch with staff and may need a wake-up call. Sixty-one per cent of business leaders say they’re “thriving” right now (as opposed to “surviving/struggling”), which is 23 percentage points higher than those without decision-making authority. Just 44% of working moms say they’re thriving, while only 36% of new employees and 33% of single people are thriving.

Gen Z may need to be re-energized. More likely to be single and new to their careers, workers between the ages of 18 and 25 seem to be having a tougher time than other generations right now—60% say they’re “surviving/struggling” as opposed to “thriving.” Ensuring gen Z feels a sense of purpose and well-being will be crucial in the shift to hybrid, says the report.

Authenticity will spur productivity and well-being. One in five workers have met their colleagues’ pets or families virtually, while one in six (17%) have cried with a colleague this year. Such interactions may help foster a more comfortable workplace; compared to a year ago, 39% say they’re more likely to be their full, authentic selves at work. And people who interacted with co-workers more closely than before actually reported higher productivity and better overall well-being.

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