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Microsoft Analyzes Top 10 Labor Trends in 2021

What has changed and how does the next year look?

With the year almost over, Microsoft shared a reflection on the 10 main work trends that marked the year 2021 and that we will take to 2022, with hybrid work becoming a reality unavoidable on a global scale, digitization and automation at unprecedented levels, and the renewed prioritization of people’s well-being.

Among the 10 main trends that marked the year 2021, the following stand out:

1. Half of the global workforce on the move
According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index 2021, 41% of workers worldwide considered leaving their job in 2021. For some, burnout or a lack of flexibility in the workplace was the deciding factor, but for many, the pandemic brought space and time to put priorities into perspective. This is the “Great Reshuffle”, as LinkedIn points out when leaders and employees are rethinking work models, cultures and corporate values.

2. The paradox of the hybrid model
While the vast majority of contributors say they want the freedom to work remotely, the same percentage wants more face-to-face collaboration post-pandemic. This was one of the biggest dilemmas of 2021 and is what Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, dubbed the Hybrid Paradox. In hybrid work, there is no “one-size-fits-all” formula, so the future will be to give employees the flexibility to design the work schedule that best suits their lives.

3. Investing in share capital has never been more important
The value of social capital has never been more critical than it is now, and according to experts at Microsoft, it’s spontaneous and informal interactions that foster the connection between employees and that sustain productivity and innovation. More time needs to be invested in building a culture of empathy and active listening by leaders.

4. The unforeseen events of hybrid meetings
According to Frost & Sullivan, of the nearly 90 million face-to-face meetings worldwide, only 7.8% were video capable in the first year of the pandemic. Now, the big challenge is to make the interaction experience more real and natural. At this level, Microsoft Teams updates stand out, such as the incorporation of digital whiteboards, cameras and speakers powered by AI, and video transmissions that position remote participants at the eye level of presential participants.

5. Asynchronous collaboration
The last year has seen an increase in “asynchronous collaboration,” a way of working together that doesn’t require people to work at the same time. Digital collaboration tools allow those who cannot be present at a meeting to follow the issues, without negative consequences for their work.

6. Flexibility is the word of the year
According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index 2021, 66% of business decision-makers are considering redesigning physical spaces to better accommodate hybrid work environments and 81% of leaders are adjusting their policies to offer employees more flexibility, including hybrid work, according to a survey conducted by LinkedIn. ZipRecruiter’s data also show us that the description of jobs with flexibility increased from 6.4% in 2016 to 20% in 2021.

7. “More” is not always “better” when it comes to getting together
In video calls, we’re talking to people who are squashed to the size of a postage stamp. It’s more challenging,” said Michael Bohan, Senior Director of Microsoft’s Human Factors Center of Excellence. There is, therefore, to cultivate and invest in time for self-care. To address this need, Outlook users can now set default meeting times in their calendars to 25 minutes (instead of 30) and 50 minutes (instead of an hour).

8. Learn to filter out the distractions of hybrid life
With the hybrid work model, there also came a set of distractions that employees are faced with throughout their working day, which interferes in the interaction experience with their colleagues. To minimize impact, using alerts or visual icons, for example, during a meeting can help participants redirect their focus and attention.

9. The challenges and surprises of long-distance contracting
A study on how the consequences of remote hiring on Microsoft employees found that when managers played an active role – such as in one-to-one initiatives – new employees were 3.5 times more likely to feel satisfied with their experience of integration into the organization. In a year in which a large part of the hirings took place remotely, the weight of the intervention of the leaders proves to be fun.

10. Collaboration, in person or remotely, becomes more innovative every day
The convergence between the physical and the digital made the experiences more immersive and real, with people watching, for example, NBA games as if they were physically in the stadium. At this year’s Ignite event, Microsoft took viewers into a metaverse setting using mixed-reality technology in Microsoft Mesh. Thus, access to technology is not enough, it is necessary to use creativity to make experiences more expressive and innovative.

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