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Microsoft has come up with an interesting & detailed report basis findings from its first annual work trend index. It's by far the largest remote work dataset that anyone has analysed in the past year - 30,000 people in 31 countries & trillions of signals across Microsoft 365 & LinkedIn!

Some of the findings from the report are eye-opening while others just validate our existing assumptions. But what concerns me most is the solution hinted at - hybrid work where only a part of employees work remotely, while others work in office.

We will get to why I see that as a huge problem, but first let me share of summary of the findings.

Findings from Microsoft's Annual Work Trend Index

1) Flexible work is inevitable & here to stay

This is established across every report now & even this report (with the largest dataset) validates it - Majority (70%) of people want flexible remote work options. However, 65% of people also said that they crave more in-person time with their teams.

2) Managers need a wake-up call since they are out of touch with their employees

Managers are thriving in a remote setting while their reportees aren't doing well. 61% leaders said they are faring well, whereas only 38% of employees said so.

3) Productivity is higher but people are exhausted due to digital overload

Over the last year:

- Time spent in MS Team meetings is 2.5x globally

- Average meeting duration is 10 mins longer

- # of emails delivered is up by 40 billion

- 45% more chats sent/week by an MS Teams user

4) Authenticity in company culture will boost productivity & wellbeing

2020 was a tough year for everyone but people found new ways to bond with each other.

- 20% met their colleagues' families or pets virtually

- 17% cried (shared emotion) with a coworker on call

5) Employees are considering leaving their current employer for remote work

A staggering 41% employees said they are considering to leave their current employer in 2021 for a company that offers remote work!

LinkedIn data also indicated that diverse applicants including women, those without a degree & Gen Z are more likely to favour remote roles.

Hybrid remote isn't the solution, it is at best a temporary fix

Now here's where I strongly differ from what the report infers & suggests as the way forward.

1) The next great disruption is hybrid remote - Wrong!

Yes, people are craving more in-person time with colleagues. The solution to that is more frequent collaboration in the form of quarterly catchups, team & company retreats, attending conferences together etc.

Having half the people in-office & the other half remote just creates a divide or class among employees. Moreover, restrictions like asking employees to stay within commuting distance of an allotted office are just oppresive!

2) Remote = lost connections. Hence, it's hard to get in new ideas - Wrong!

There's plenty of amazing ways & tools to brainstorm & innovate in a virtual setting. Moreover, that's a minuscule part of most people's day-to-day work.

Rather than forcing people into the office basis this argument, companies should find ways to innovate virtually & make occassional in-person collaborations happen.

In conclusion, Microsoft's new report surely brings some valid points to the fore - something most companies need to hear & take of. However, I would not make the mistake of taking their word on hybrid being the next disruption.


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    Totally agree with your assessment. The report is very valuable - great data.  I agree they are stuck in the nostalgia of the old days where innovation happened when people bumped into each other in the halls. Why would you want to rely on happenstance to drive innovation???