We all know the past year was a struggle for most people.Workers across ranks struggled with uncertainty, job cuts and pay cuts. However, interestingly, those in decision-making roles seemed to have fared better than their employees. Sixty-one per cent of business leaders seem to be thriving as compared to their subordinates. A good 61 per cent of GenZ and a significant 56 per cent of working mothers are struggling!
Not surprisingly, more than 70 per cent workers across the globe are desirous of flexible remote working options continuing. That means, flexible work is not going away anytime soon. But the fact that people are missing meeting their colleagues is also clear because a good 67 per cent are yearning for more in-person interaction with their teams. These insights come from Microsoft’s annual Work Trend Index report. Given the way the manner of working changed in 2020, the report is aptly titled ‘The Next Great Disruption is Hybrid Work – Are We Ready?’
Here are some insights:
Leaders are thriving, subordinates struggling
The study reveals that the majority( 61 per cent) of business leaders are thriving, and only 39 per cent are struggling. On the other hand, 41 per cent of the married professionals are thriving, while 54 per cent are struggling. Fifty-six per cent working mothers are struggling, whereas 44 per cent are thriving. Surprisingly, a significant 61 per cent of GenZ are struggling, and only 40 per cent are thriving. Unfortunately, 61 per cent of frontline workers, who were the heroes of the pandemic are struggling, and only 39 per cent are thriving. In terms of new employees, 64 per cent are struggling, while 36 per cent are thriving. Amongst the single workers, a majority (67 per cent) is struggling, while only 33 per cent are thriving.
Clearly, business leaders or those in decision-making roles are doing far better than their subordinates, with 17 percentage points more being able to earn more and 12 percentage points more being able to go on vacations. About 37 per cent of the global workforce feels their companies are demanding too much of them during such a crisis period.
Overall, people are definitely struggling and new ways will have to be thought of to help them
According to Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft, employee expectations are changing, and we will need to define productivity much more broadly — inclusive of collaboration, learning, and wellbeing to drive career advancement for every worker, including frontline and knowledge workers, as well as for new graduates and those who are in the workforce today. All this needs to be done with flexibility in when, where, and how people work.”
Of the 31,092 full-time employed or self-employed workers surveyed, across 31 markets, between January 12, 2021 and January 25, 2021, 42 per cent employees feel that they lack the required office supplies at home. One in 10 lack proper internet connection to perform their work. Surprisingly, even after a year of the pandemic-induced remote working approach, 46 per cent employees say their employers do not support them in terms of internet expenses. The good news is that 66 per cent leaders are planning to redesign the physical offices for hybrid working. So, despite the challenges, post-pandemic workplaces will witness extreme flexibility and follow the hybrid route.
Work-life balance and digital exhaustion
One in five respondents feel their employer doesn’t care about their work-life balance. A singificnat 54 percent admit to feeling overworked, while 39 per cent feel exhausted. There are clear indications of digital exhaustion among workers, thanks to the increased number of meetings and chats over the past year. With each passing year, meetings and chats per person are increasing per week.
Gen Z badly impacted, demotivated
Gen Z seems to have suffered the most during the pandemic. Belonging to the 18 to 25 age bracket, they are mostly single and are in the initial stages of their career. Therefore, naturally, they have felt the after-effects of isolation the most. With hardly any motivation at work, and inadequate finances to set up a comfortable home office for remote working, they seem to have felt the maximum impact. No wonder, 60 per cent admit to struggling. Compared to older generations, they are more exhausted at the end of the day and find it challenging to balance work and home. This has affected their ability to participate actively in meetings or think of new ideas.
Work is more ‘human’
While broader networks seemed to have been ignored, people interacted closely with their immediate networks during the pandemic. But then, something positive also came out of it all. With people across ranks working from home and trying to balance domestic life and professional work, the human side of work was highlighted. One in five employees got to meet their families and pets online. About 17 per cent have actually cried with a colleague, and a higher number shared sorrows in the industries that bore the maximum brunt — 20 per cent in the education sector, 21 per cent in the travel and tourism space and 23 per cent in the healthcare space.
These virtual interactions with coworkers have encouraged people to be themselves and also bond better. In comparison to a year ago, 39 per cent people feel they will be more likely to be their original selves at work, while 31 per cent admit they will not feel as embarrassed or ashamed when their homes or domestic lives are exposed. Stronger work relationships have been created and higher productivity has been reported.
Wider talent pool
Remote working or the hybrid work model has led to a wider talent pool. There were five times more remote job postings during the pandemic than ever before. A significant 46 per cent of remote workers plan to shift to a new location as they can now work from anywhere. Career expansion or growth no longer demands relocation or leaving the community or home.
The pandemic forced professionals to consider switching jobs. About 41 per cent workers, globally, are considering leaving their current employer within a year, and 46 per cent plan to make a major transition in terms of their career.
Challenges for leaders
Clearly, decision-makers have a challenge at hand. They cannot follow the old models or rely on past experiences and decide on the basis of assumptions. Like Jared Spataro, corporate VP, Microsoft 365 puts it, “The choices you make today will impact organisations for years to come. It’s a moment that requires clear vision and a growth mindset.” He could not have been closer to the truth as he explains, “These decisions will impact everything from how you shape culture, to how you attract and retain talent, to how you can better foster collaboration and innovation.”
The workforce will have to be empowered for flexibility. Work spaces will have to be redesigned to balance the physical and digital worlds. Employee experience will require rethinking.