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We’ve been on the cusp of the shift to hybrid working for more than a year, with false starts along the way – due to the pandemic – having other ideas. Now, we’re at a long-awaited inflection point – the lived experience of hybrid working.

Did you know that hybrid working is up seven points year-over-year at 38%, or that 53% of people are likely to consider transitioning to hybrid working in the year ahead?

It’s clear that none of us are the same people that went to work from home in early 2020. As a collective, the past two years have brought what really matters to the forefront of our minds, which means we all now define the role of ‘work’ differently. As more people experience the upsides of flexible working, this increasingly influences their decisions, too.

Take a look at these key findings, which reveal the opportunities and responsibilities needed to approach the transition, or you may risk being left behind.

Employees have a new ‘worth it’ equation

Over the past couple of years, our priorities, identities and worldviews have brought to light what is truly important – health, family, time and purpose. Therefore, what people want from work, and what they’re willing to give in return, has changed. It’s now believed that 47% of people say they are more likely to prioritise family and their personal lives over work than they were before the pandemic. The power dynamic is shifting, with employees now seeking positive culture, wellbeing benefits, flexible working hours and annual leave perks.

Culture will stand or fall

Managers are beginning to feel caught between leadership and new employee expectations, as they’re feeling powerless to drive change for their team. Studies show that 74% of managers say that they don’t have the influence or resources they need to make changes on behalf of their team. As remote and hybrid working continue to rise, it’s proving difficult for organisations to keep hold of their staff, with 52% saying they are likely to shift to this working model in the year ahead if their company does not already offer it.

Leaders need to make the office worth the commute

The biggest opportunity for business leaders is to reimagine the role of the office and create clarity around why, when and how often teams should gather in person. Latest research shows that 38% of hybrid employees say their biggest challenge is knowing when and why to come into the office. There’s no longer a one-size-fits-all approach and businesses will need to start experimenting, whether that’s with, for example, quarterly team workshops or virtual team socials. Managers need to provide clear guidance to employees as they learn what works for the team.

Flexible working doesn’t have to mean ‘always on’

Flexible working is well and truly in action, but as employees make flexible working work for them, there’s still a need to combat digital exhaustion. Employees are now finding that their days are filled with meetings, chats and workday span, as well as continuing to work after hours and at the weekend. Since February 2020, the average Microsoft Teams user saw a whopping 252% increase in their weekly meeting times; and the number of weekly meetings has increased to 153%. Empowering people to hit the ‘off switch’ is key – and it needs to be a team effort.

Rebuilding social capital looks different in a hybrid world

As remote and hybrid working have rocketed, this has also impacted relationships in some circumstances, with 43% of leaders believed to say that relationship-building is the greatest challenge with these new ways of working. Leaders are now being pressured to connect employees throughout their organisation and continue to prioritise their team culture to build relationships once more and allow them to thrive.

To find out more about Microsoft Teams or other features which Microsoft 365 has to offer for a smoother hybrid and remote working model, get in touch by calling us on 01625 837 800 – we’ll be happy to help!