Over the past three years, organisations have experienced the greatest upheaval in a generation, and the hybrid work model has come out top

Though employees have become accustomed to the flexibility that comes with hybrid work, business leaders are less confident about the value of flexible work and face a moral dilemma in advocating a happy and healthy workforce while also maintaining company culture and productivity. Organisations have remained focused on keeping productivity high, and many feel that is best achieved back in the office. Even though 87% of employees feel productive when working remotely, only 12% of leaders trust their team, as shown in Microsoft’s Work Trend Index.

How does hybrid working affect employee well-being and productivity?

A remote work environment can have a significant impact on employee productivity, as employees who feel unsupported and disconnected are less likely to be motivated to work effectively. Microsoft Surface’s The re-imagined office: not a re-design but a re-define research points to a high consensus from 50% of employees who agree to get back to the office and working in person with their colleagues is affording them a better connection to their company’s organisational purpose. Despite this, many still find themselves stuck in pre-pandemic office spaces and crave more flexibility at work.

The research indicates that employees are now keen to maintain a flexible working environment to help them balance their personal and professional lives. And, with the latest data from the Office of National Statistics indicating that the UK is still in a tight labour market where staff hold the power, businesses need to listen to employee demands to ensure they are engaged and supported at work.

Why the office cannot return to pre-pandemic

Getting back to the office cannot be a return to pre-pandemic spaces but must be a re-imagining of work and life. Employers are in danger of failing to fulfil their moral duty to advocate for a happier and healthier workforce – and that means continuing to offer remote flexibility – as the well-being of their employees demands it. Employers want to encourage greater in-person presence, so they must both create a space that still delivers flexibility and is worth the commute while also supporting increased human connection.

Only 31% of employees say their organisation has invested in technology to help improve collaboration in the office over the past year

The best talent will not be swayed by just any job offer. They are looking for something more: the opportunity to work most or all of the time remotely. In addition to providing competitive benefits, employers must be willing to consider other factors contributing to job satisfaction, including more flexible employment arrangements and better-equipped office spaces that allow for effective hybrid and remote work. Microsoft Surface’s research found that a lack of investment in sociable and collaborative workplaces may be preventing UK employees from returning to the workplace. Only 31% of employees say their organisation has invested in technology to help improve collaboration in the office over the past year.

How can we make hybrid work support a strong company ethos?

As hybrid work continues to evolve, IT decision makers (ITDMs) and management teams need to find new ways to bring people together – both inside and outside the office – to communicate and collaborate, enabling flexible work while fostering a stronger company culture.

With the ability to go into the office again (and often a mandate to do so), business leaders everywhere face the challenge of balancing the need for continued productivity with employee expectations that the workplace will provide a flexible and innovative experience – and one that’s also worth the time and money to go into the office.

By learning what employees value most about the office, including collaboration, engagement, technology and productivity, business leaders and employees can find common ground to make the re-imagined office a reality.

Meeting employee expectations boosts the hybrid work model

When it comes to the office itself, trying to fit back into an ‘old house’ when style and form have all evolved simply won’t work. It’s time to recognise why employees want to come into the office, the work that’s best suited for when they get there and the tools and technology that make it all possible.

Employees have made their voices heard regarding the technology they use, with 61% saying that having the right device helps them maintain a healthy work-life balance by supporting their productivity. Having the right tools, combined with effective change management for supporting the people side of change, can help businesses adapt to the new reality and set them up for success in the future.

Today’s hybrid work model means that organisations must go beyond tools for productivity and collaboration to focus on people while ensuring their management framework fulfils their moral duty in a re-imagined office.


This piece has been written and provided by Alan Slothower, Surface Business Group Lead, Microsoft UK.


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