In this detailed and extensive report, researchers at Microsoft aim to present a holistic understanding of the impact of remote work and identify opportunities to support new work practices. The initiative consisted of over 50 research projects, conducted by teams that span a range of disciplines (including engineering, research, marketing, human resources, and facilities) and divisions (including Microsoft Research, Office, Windows, Azure, Xbox, GitHub, and LinkedIn).
It claims to be the world’s largest synthesis of findings related to how people’s work practices have evolved since the start of the pandemic. The findings highlight a number of acute challenges and suggest opportunities to develop new work practices that are more efficient and energizing.
This extensive report aims to answer key questions. As we witness the emergence of new occupations and the decline of existing ones, which principles should be applied in designing sustainable development solutions? What could be the ‘new normal’ in perks and social benefits offered by employers globally? What are the effects of radical technological advancements including AI?
This report (based on research with 339 respondents from more than a dozen countries across the Americas, Asia Pacific and European regions) provides some insights on the future of the office:
- The future is not binary: 100% remote work is not ideal for most employees. According to pre-pandemic data from Gallup, employees working in the office five days a week and those working outside the office five days a week both had lower employee engagement than those utilising a hybrid model of both remote and in-office work.
- The purpose of the office is evolving: Employees being in the office several days a week will make the quality, services and amenities even more important, as the office is designed to offer what remote work can’t.
- Tailored approaches required: Office usage will vary based upon employee roles, team dynamics, departments, individual preferences and personal characteristics. Understanding different employee ‘personas’ informs policies and workspaces that maximize performance.
- Opportunities to access different labour pools: A third of survey respondents (and 39% of C-suite respondents) expect that companies will allow employees to live anywhere regardless of company office presence. This potentially opens untapped labour pools, gives employees more flexibility to live outside of major and secondary markets, and increases employee loyalty.