By Colin Erasmus, Modern Workplace and Security Business Group Lead at Microsoft South Africa
Many experts and business leaders have come forward with strong opinions on how, when and where people should work in a hybrid world.
Studies have made it clear that hybrid is here to stay, but leaders are battling to decide what it should look like.
Ongoing research shows employees crave more in-person time with their team but wish to keep the flexibility of remote work. This complexity is what Microsoft calls the Hybrid Work Paradox.
To drill down into some of these complexities, we are hosting our virtual Microsoft 365 Summit South Africa: The Future of Hybrid Work on Wednesday, 01 December where top minds will come together to discuss the big question on everyone’s mind: how do we adopt hybrid work, with a view to enhancing work culture, productivity and well-being?
Join leaders from Microsoft, IDC, Adobe, PWC, Ernst & Young and Poly in this thought leadership summit to discuss how companies can accommodate what employees want: the best of both worlds.
Putting employees front and centre
The last 18 months have revealed a number of different working styles. At Microsoft for example, the top three reasons people wanted to work from home included skipping the commute, achieving better work-life balance and protecting their focus.
The top reason people wanted to return to the office was to collaborate with their colleagues and socialise.
People want the flexibility to work from anywhere, but simultaneously crave more in-person connection with their teams.
For hybrid work to be a sustainable model, employers will need to embrace flexibility, understand and make room for different working styles and foster a culture of trust.
Success begins by placing people at the centre. In fact, according to PwC, while COVID-19 triggered the ‘virtual age’ of the working world, we are now entering the ‘personalised age’.
This new phase of work is essentially all about maximising convenience and performance, well-being and productivity.
Reimagining the digital experience
According to the IDC, another defining element of the future workplace is the emergence of intelligent digital workspaces. Supported by AI and machine learning, these workspaces should enable a more efficient flow of work.
They should augment process execution, providing access to the data, digital and physical and social resources that are required to complete work anywhere.
A key consideration towards a hybrid future is that spaces and places are even more important than they were before.
Hybrid meetings, for example, are an entirely new kind of meeting that require rethinking our approach to ensure we’re putting every attendee on equal footing, whether they are in the room or not.
Recent innovations in Microsoft Teams Rooms are helping companies have impactful, engaging hybrid meetings where everyone feels included.
These include features such as AI-powered active speaker tracking, enabling in-room cameras to use audio, facial movements and gestures to detect who in the room is speaking.
Multiple video streams also allow in-room participants to be placed in their own video pane.
Technology will play a fundamental role in the ability of employers to deliver on the requirements of the ‘personalised age’. Whether employees are in the office or working remotely, the digital employee experience is the new employee experience.
Meeting employee expectations, not just to attract and to retain talent, but to enable personal well-being, will be a challenge for every leader and every organisation.
But if we listen to our employees and customers and incorporate flexibility into everything we do, we believe we can create a better future of work.
Please join Microsoft at our Future of Hybrid Work Summit on Wednesday, 01 December from 10:30am – 12:30pm where leaders will unpack the challenges, benefits and opportunities in this new world of work.