Information workers were among the class of workers who were most easily able to transition to remote work when the pandemic struck in early 2020.
For many of them it was a revelation: the benefits of working from home, the ability to be productive even if they weren’t in the same room with peers and colleagues, the feeling that a better work-life balance was within their grasp. But then there were the downsides: boundary-less bosses, burnout, working on weekends, additional stress.
Now these workers are facing a new reality: going back to the office but not quite the way it was. Not only will a “day in the life” be different than it was before the pandemic, it will likely be different from the day before or the day after. The very concept of a typical day for information workers may be a relic of the past.
Some days will be at home, some in an office, some split between the two, some on the road, and perhaps some working in a satellite office or coffee shop. Some people who used to have their own office now may be sharing one. When they do go to the office, they may be sharing a device. When they are in a meeting, they may be there physically and co-workers will be remote, or they may be remote, interacting and collaborating with workers who are together in a physical space. The permutations are just one more fact of life to get accustomed to.
It’s not just workers that have to adjust to the new world of hybrid work: Business leaders, managers and corporate cultures must adjust as well. According to the Microsoft 2022 Work Trends Index report, 43% of business leaders surveyed said relationship building is the greatest challenge in hybrid and remote work.1 Yet only 28% of companies indicated they have created agreements that outline team norms around hybrid work and only 27% have created new meeting etiquette to ensure all workers feel included and engaged.
See related article: Hybrid Work 2022: It’s Time to Get Real
The ability to commit to new management styles and adapt corporate cultures is essential for business leaders in supporting both the productivity and well-being of information workers in the hybrid work era. Part of that commitment requires investing in technologies that support and empower the hybrid work experience.
For example, one of the key innovations coming out of the pandemic has been the development of meeting spaces designed specifically to support the hybrid workforce, creating a seamless and consistent meeting experience for workers who are physically in the room and those who are remote.
This type of solution is exemplified by Microsoft Teams Rooms, which bridges the gap between people working remotely and those in an office, with a meeting room solution that is inclusive, flexible, easy to use, secure and managed. A related development is the availability of Microsoft Teams Phones, which enables people to make and receive calls in Microsoft Teams. These solutions are extremely valuable for information workers, who often rely on collaboration to do their jobs effectively and are most likely to be working in a hybrid world now and for the foreseeable future.
The good news, according to the 2022 Work Trends Index report, is that 54% of organizations are currently redesigning meeting spaces for hybrid work or plan to in the year ahead. The bad news is that 46% are not. This is the kind of investment in people, culture and technology that should be a no-brainer—particularly at a time when supporting hybrid work is becoming a business necessity and workers are placing a growing emphasis on user experience and personal well-being.
Taking the Next Step
Technology innovations such as Microsoft Teams Rooms and Microsoft Teams Phones are representative of the commitment that Microsoft has made to being the industry leader in supporting organizations and workers as hybrid work transitions from concept to reality.
In addition, solutions such as Microsoft Viva, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Office 365, Microsoft Power Platform and more all make hybrid work more feasible for business leaders and more attractive for employees.
The Microsoft model for end-to-end, integrated security across applications is another key factor in making hybrid work really work for people and organizations. It simplifies management of functions such as data privacy, cybersecurity, regulatory compliance and governance.
The idea that a day in the life of an information worker will never be the same is a challenge. But it is also an opportunity to be innovative in how you treat your workers, create an enviable corporate culture and leverage technology to improve productivity, boost morale and make your organization an attractive and enticing place to work.
For more information on how your organization can empower information workers in the hybrid work era, please download the Microsoft Teams e-book: Modernizing communication is the key to hybrid work.
1 “Great Expectations: Making Hybrid Work Work,” Microsoft WorkLab, March 16, 2022