As we enter the third year of hybrid work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft has recommended three strategies that it believes will be critical to the success of the new world of work in 2022.
Companies must consider flexibility, culture, and inclusion as part of their hybrid work strategies when planning and implementing them. These will be critical for businesses, according to Ibrahim Youssry, Regional General Manager for the Middle East, and Africa Multi-Country Region at Microsoft, and will have a significant impact on who stays, who leaves, and who seeks to join different teams.
These recommendations come as studies show that approximately 40 per cent of the global workforce is considering leaving their current jobs by the end of 2021. The 2021 Work Trend Index Report released in March, revealed that while flexible work is here to stay, the majority of those surveyed believe that hybrid work is difficult. The survey included over 30,000 workers from 31 countries, and it drew on data from applications such as Teams, Outlook, and Office 365.
While speaking at the virtual Microsoft 365 Summit: Future of Hybrid Work event, Youssry explained that companies must approach this next phase of work carefully. “How you shape your business culture going forward, what you do to attract and retain talent, how you respond to changes in your working environment, and how you approach future innovation will all be key to success in the coming years,” noted Youssry. He continued by outlining three interventions that businesses can implement to ensure that they get hybrid work right: enabling extreme flexibility; taking a proactive approach to company culture, and prioritising inclusion.
With regard to flexibility, and while this might make some feel uncomfortable, it’s important for organisations to sit down with their employees and take the time to find out what everyone needs to be as efficient and productive as possible. Youssry mentions that this will likely be different for each person and for each team. As such, coming up with policies that suit everyone requires a lot of time and careful consideration ahead of enabling extreme flexibility.
As for company culture, team-building efforts must be proactive, not passive, he said. “It’s critical to invest in strategies and technologies that bridge the gap between the digital and the physical worlds so that those working remotely don’t feel disconnected from those working in the office and vice versa. To break down siloed thinking, teams must be presented with opportunities to brainstorm, collaborate, and share ideas – no matter where they are located,” he said.
Lastly, companies will also need to consider inclusion as another priority. When you consider that one billion people with disabilities around the world have been disproportionately impacted due to the pandemic, it is every employer’s responsibility to prioritise their inclusion, explained Youssry. “In today’s workplace, it has never been more important to include everyone. Accessibility is the vehicle to inclusion,” he said, noting that there really are no limits to what people can achieve when technology reflects the diversity of everyone who uses it.
He expounded that Microsoft’s investments in AI aim to put emerging technologies in the hands of developers so that they can accelerate the development of accessible and intelligent AI solutions, designed by and in collaboration with people with disabilities. “Just like everyone else, we at Microsoft have never done this before,” he noted. “We’ve used this period as an opportunity to grow and evolve our workplace so that we can deliver capabilities that help our employees, customers, and business thrive.”