Microsoft Viva enhancements address employee disconnection in hybrid work environments

Credit: Microsoft

For the majority of office workers, working outside the office has been the new normal for almost two and a half years.

Hybrid working, however, has created a growing disconnect between employees and leaders, according to new research from Microsoft’s latest Work Trend Index pulse report, released in conjunction with Microsoft’s latest product upgrades. its employee experience platform, Viva.

The report, “Hybrid Work Is Just Work. Are we fooling ourselves? is based on data from 20,000 people in 11 countries, plus billions of productivity signals from Microsoft 365 and results from LinkedIn and Glint People Science.

Organizations have reached a critical juncture in the evolution of hybrid working, with Microsoft’s findings clearly demonstrating that a new approach is needed from enterprises, said Sunita Khatri, senior director of product marketing at Microsoft.

“Now more than ever, leaders need to balance employee interest with what it takes to drive the business forward,” Khatri said. “That means aligning people’s tasks with work that matters or has impact and creating an employee experience that meets employee expectations.”

These tensions are particularly acute when it comes to productivity issues. Dubbed “productivity paranoia” by Microsoft, research shows that 85% of executives say the shift to hybrid working has made it difficult to trust their employees are productive, while 87% of employees surveyed for the report said that they were productive at work.

Credit: Microsoft

Managers lack visual cues of productivity

According to Microsoft, many leaders and managers miss the old visual cues of what it means to be productive because they can’t physically “see” who’s working hard. The report found that 49% of hybrid work managers said they find it hard to believe their employees are doing their best, compared to 36% of in-person managers.

Additionally, 54% of hybrid work managers said they had less visibility into their employees’ work, while only 38% of in-person managers said they had the same issue. As a result, employees are now feeling the pressure to ‘prove’ they are working, causing what is known as ‘digital flooding’ to skyrocket.

Therefore, unless leaders stop worrying about whether their employees are working and instead focus on helping them prioritize the work that matters most, Microsoft hypothesizes that hybrid working will become unsustainable.

This problem is further illustrated by the fact that 81% of employees surveyed said it was important for their managers to help them prioritize their workload, but only 31% said their managers had ever given clear direction when individual interviews.

The report also highlighted the need for organizations to better understand what motivates their employees to come to the office.

Seventy-three percent of employees and 78 percent of business decision makers surveyed said they needed a better reason to go to the office than the company expected, 84 percent said they would be motivated to go if they could socialize with colleagues, and 85% citing the ability to rebuild team bonds.

To retain employees, Microsoft research highlights the importance of retraining and upskilling your employees. Of those surveyed, 55% of employees said the best way to develop their skills is to change companies.

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