The Hybrid Working Paradox

Given the unpredictability of the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies are rethinking their plans for returning to the office. Microsoft places great emphasis on data and so have conducted a survey of their employees in over 100 countries on the intricacies of hybrid working. The complexity shown in this survey has been named the Hybrid Work Paradox.

The Hybrid Work Paradox

Microsoft’s research shows employees want more in-person time with their team but also want to keep the flexibility of remote work. This report has shown that, ultimately, every person is different. 58% of employees who plan to spend the most and least time in-office are doing it for the same reason: to be able to better focus on their work. The Hybrid Work Paradox is that employees cite work-life balance, focus time, and collaboration as reasons to go into the office, while others cite those same things as reasons to work from home.

As companies have shifted to remote work, they increasingly need to accommodate employee expectations. This has been labelled “the great reshuffle”. Many companies are rethinking their working models, cultures and company values, while at the same time, employees are rethinking how and where they work.  Hybrid working is providing greater flexibility to employees but, as the Hybrid Work Paradox has shown, individuals will want to use this flexibility in different ways.

Taken together, the Hybrid Work Paradox and the Great Reshuffle are creating fundamental changes in the global labour market. Ultimately, no one can predict how things will change over the next few years, but it seems that companies that are adaptable and able to continuously innovate will have the advantage. 

Microsoft’s solutions

Microsoft sees the role of technology as an enabler and are applying its flexibility to make hybrid working more efficient. Currently, companies are struggling with how to have effective hybrid meetings, often with limited equipment and resources. Hybrid meetings with both internal and external attendees are an entirely new kind of meeting and require some rethinking as to how best to approach them.  

To help their users transition to these hybrid meetings, Microsoft has recommended some practices to adopt. These include:

  • Making sure in-person meeting rooms have a centralised audio device
  • Encouraging everyone to join the Teams meeting with their camera on
  • Appointing an in-room moderator to facilitate conversation by monitoring the chat, raise hands feature, and participants unmuting themselves to speak.  

In addition to these new cultural meeting norms, Microsoft emphasises that technology can help elevate the hybrid meeting experience. Microsoft have announced new Teams Rooms innovations, along with new Teams features, to help you have impactful, engaging hybrid meetings where everyone feels included.  

New Teams Rooms innovations 

Microsoft’s new Teams Rooms innovation will include a new category of AI-enabled cameras. There are three unique technologies that power this new category of intelligent cameras. The first is AI-powered active speaker tracking, enabling in-room cameras to use audio, facial movements and gestures to detect who in the room is speaking. The next is multiple video streams that allow in-room participants to be placed in their own video pane. The third is people recognition, which will identify and display the profile name of enrolled users within their video pane.  

Three people in a meeting while on a Microsoft Teams video call with a large group of people.

New hybrid meeting features 

Microsoft have also announced cameo, a new PowerPoint feature that integrates the Teams camera feed into a presentation to allow the presenter to customise how and where they want to appear on the screen with their slides. 

Final Thoughts

Meeting employee expectations, not just to attract and to retain great employees, but to enable their personal well-being, will be a challenge for every organization. Microsoft are using the data they’ve gathered to build and improve their products, designing them to empower people for the ways work is changing.

As Microsoft Gold Partners with over 20 years of experience building clever digital solutions, we have the knowledge and experience to help you make the most of your digital workplace to suit the hybrid needs of the hybrid workforce. Check out our Microsoft 365 services and get in touch

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