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Research by Microsoft indicates that managers and employees are clashing over the future of hybrid work.

Microsoft questioned more than 30.000 professionals in dozens of countries about their work experience over the past year. The results were published in the Work Trend Index 2022.

The majority of managers state that their organization’s management is out of touch. 81 percent of employees say they are as productive or more productive than a year ago, while 61 percent of managers fear that productivity has decreased.

Laszlo Bock, Google’s HR chief between 2006 and 2016, recently warned that leaders have great difficulty with virtual leadership. Microsoft’s research confirms the message. 65 percent of managers want to do more to bring about change for their team, but find required resources and influence to be lacking.

Widespread problem

The decline of COVID-19 is creating a new divide. For the past two years, the world’s largest technology organizations proclaimed that remote work is on par with office work. Now that health concerns are diminishing, the same organizations are eager to open their office doors. A large number of Google offices have been open for three days since the beginning of April. Microsoft, too, sees a future in hybrid work. At the same time, less than a quarter of the companies surveyed have set agreements on why and when employees should come to the office.

The latter creates uncertainty. More than a third of the employees find it extremely challenging to estimate when they’re expected at the office. As far as we’re concerned, they have good reason to be uncertain. When given a choice between home and the office, differences arise. Some employees show up more often than others. If an organisation’s decision-makers also tend to show up, certain employees may be favoured. “Stay-at-home employees are in last place for promotions and salary increases”, warned Laszlo Bock, the aforementioned ex-head of HR at Google.

Microsoft shares the view. “Though hybrid working is the future, there are challenges for every organization”, said Shanna Bosmans, Chief Hybrid Officer (CHO) at Microsoft Netherlands. “Clear expectations and agreements are needed, with management being transparent and supporting managers to avoid falling back into old working habits.”

Microsoft Teams

In addition to work experiences, the study sheds light on behaviour. The weekly conferencing time of Teams users increased by 252 percent worldwide. Working days were extended by 46 minutes on average. Overtime increased by 28 percent on weekdays and 14 percent during weekends.

Microsoft argues that employees are open to new meeting experiences. Almost half of those questioned are interested in digital meeting rooms in the metaverse. 39 percent are prepared to attend meetings as avatars.