When it comes to how workplace trends have evolved in recent years, the call for flexible work has been louder than any other change. While still in its infancy during the pre-covid times, the sudden shift to remote work made the flexible working conditions and work from home a must for most individuals. The trend carried on as more and more employees demanded flexibility when companies shifted to a hybrid working style.
The term flexible working can have multiple meanings in the context of modern-day workplaces. For some, it means having flexible hours; for others, it's the option of remote working. But what remains unified is the employees' demand for flexibility in choosing the way they work. And according to Microsoft's Work Trend Index 2022 (WTI), this desire for flexibility extends to leadership, too, as 47% of leaders across the globe are likely to consider applying for jobs not near their homes in the next year.
The use of digital platforms for the day-to-day operations of businesses has made this shift to flexible work possible. And reports show that their usage has seen a meteoric rise since the pandemic. Microsoft's Work Trend Index 2022 noted a similar shift. Identifying the increase in communication through its Microsoft Teams, the report stated that globally there was a 252% increase in weekly time spent in meetings for the average Teams user since February 2020.
But while flexibility is close to becoming a business norm, companies have a tricky line to toe.
They need to ensure that the drive towards flexibility in remote or hybrid work doesn't drive employees to exhaustion and burnout.
The WTI report notes that the companies need to ensure flexibility doesn't mean employees are "always on." "After-hours work and workday span are still increasing, as is the number of weekly meetings and chats per person," adds the report. The report noted a 28% average rise in after-hours work and a 13% average rise in the workday span.
While workplace tools like Microsoft Viva's range of talent solutions enable companies to design workflows that facilitate flexible work, companies need to pay close attention to balancing productivity with the scope of burnout.
Additionally, while flexible work conditions have the potential to make employees vulnerable to exhaustion, burnout, or isolation, curbing flexibility is certainly not the answer. In addition to employees—with younger workforce generations leading the crowd—demand for flexible work has never been higher. The WTI report notes that people are also slowly fashioning flexible work in ways that suit them. This makes it difficult for companies to do away with flexible work.
To successfully create the right balance between providing flexible work options without the risk of leading to exhaustion and burnout, companies need the right digital solutions. Ones that can provide easy-to-create workflow solutions for hybrid and remote teams.
Powered by Microsoft 365 and experienced through Microsoft Teams, Viva helps companies do that. By fostering a culture that empowers people and teams to be their best from anywhere. Whether it's a robust platform that helps create a workplace where employees have the flexibility to engage and participate from anywhere or a learning tool that ensures employees can learn and grow together, irrespective of physical distance, Microsoft Viva solutions offers a collection of tools that ensures companies' workplace caters to rising demand for flexibility and the shift to hybrid work without compromising its productivity and growth.
This is important in light of how many today feel they are always on, whether they work "flexibly" or in a "hybrid setting". While companies focus on building newer, more productive ways of working, it's important to note the role of flexible work in attracting, retaining, and engaging employees. And while it might be a simple task to shift to remote or hybrid work, using the right workplace talent solutions enable companies to create the right balance and avoid digital exhaustion.