Microsoft Research reveals a workforce needs change: 49% of Gen Z workers are likely to consider transitioning to a hybrid model in their current role, and 46% are likely to go remote.
Gen Z and Millennial workers, being aged between 18 and 41, make up a large part of the current workforce. The latest Work Trend Index 2022 showed that employees are re-evaluating the role of work in their lives with a shift in the “worth-it” equation – what people want from work and what they’re willing to give in return. In fact, the study revealed that 49% of Gen Z and Millennial workers are likely to consider changing employers this year.
- New Trend arises – Freedom and Flexibility
Although the Work Trend Index 2022 revealed that all workers want more flexibility, it showed that Millennials and Gen Z are most in favour of the change. Results say that 49% of Gen Z workers are likely to consider transitioning to a hybrid model in their current role, and 46% are likely to go remote. More than other generations of workers, they place a high value on the freedom to choose when and where they work.
- Priorities change – well-being and corporate culture matter now more
But it’s not just flexibility that Gen Z and Millennial workers want. The Work Trend Index 2022 found that, after pay, these employees also look most for a positive workplace culture (46%), wellbeing benefits (42%) and a sense of purpose or meaning (40%) as workplace priorities.
- Quitting is an option – that’s why businesses should change
The study also revealed that Gen Z and Millennials are more likely to vote with their feet. In fact, nearly half of them in Europe (49%) are likely to consider a new employer this year compared to the EMEA region average of 36%. A further 31% of Gen Z employees are likely to relocate and find a job that allows them to work remotely.
The Next Big Thing Is Hybrid Work — Are We Ready?
Gen Z and Millennial workers make up a large part of the current workforce and will likely increasingly come to make up senior leadership roles in the future. To attract the best talent – now and in the future – organizations have to adapt their working practices to meet the new expectations of employees. HR and business leaders will therefore need to create organizations where these groups feel engaged and have a sense of loyalty and purpose.
“There’s no erasing the lived experience and lasting impact of the past two years. Empowering managers to adapt to new employee expectations helps set businesses up for long-term success. Great tool to help teams in this shift is our Microsoft Viva that helps teams across organization to thrive with recommendations on how to improve their productivity and wellbeing”, commented Ketevan Ratiani, Modern Work Business Lead, Microsoft CEE Multi-Country.
Successfully meeting the needs of employees requires a mindset shift for HR and business leaders. With the increased importance placed on a positive workplace culture and a hunger for flexibility, leaders will need to adapt the way their teams work to ensure that employees and managers have clarity about their roles and responsibilities, and clarity about how hybrid work works.
Yet few companies (just 27%) have established team agreements to clearly define these new norms. To build effective hybrid teams, managers will need to introduce team agreements that establish the ‘why’, ‘when’, and ‘how’ of the office, the purpose of in-person collaboration, agreements on when to come together in person, defining hybrid meeting etiquette, and rethinking how space can play a supporting role.
These agreements are to ensure that everyone has the same engaging experience of work, whether they’re in an office or working remotely. A collaborative, digital culture can help bridge geographic distance and other differences when leaders are intentional about how they use technology to do so. Some examples of clauses in an agreement include:
- Open/shared Outlook calendars to simplify and streamline meeting scheduling.
- Adding Microsoft Teams links to every meeting invitation so people can choose whether they want to join virtually or in-person
- Using updated Outlook RSVP – it enables you to indicate whether you’ll attend a meeting in person or remotely. After all, not many people want to commute into an empty office.
- Collaborating on shared documents in the cloud so everyone has access to the same information – and version control doesn’t get out of hand!
- Using digital tools for measuring employee experience, e.g., Microsoft Viva, that allow to learn work patterns and with data-driven insights to help improve employee wellbeing, productivity connection, foster knowledge sharing, strengthen company culture and, as a result, help organizations retain their best and brightest talent.
- Creating tech-equipped office meeting rooms – meeting rooms that allow for an equitable meeting experience for both in person and remote participants.
- Applying Teams Rooms with Front Row – feature that makes everyone feel included in a hybrid meeting, regardless of where they’re sitting, will be key to making hybrid work work. With Front Row in Teams, the video gallery appears at the bottom of the screen so in-room participants can see remote colleagues face-to-face — almost as if they were in the same room.
- Recording calls so information can be shared with those who weren’t there at the time.
- Using PowerPoint Recording Studio and Cameo – you can record yourself delivering a presentation and share it with colleagues to watch on their own time, without a need to interrupt their “focus time”.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Making the office work for everyone will therefore take a lot of intentionality. This means setting minds to achieving making flexible, hybrid work work. By adapting to new employees’ expectations now through technological, process and cultural shifts, businesses can future-proof themselves and fully benefit from hybrid work.
 The Work Trend Index survey was conducted by an independent research firm, Edelman Data x Intelligence, among 31,102 full-time employed or self-employed workers across 31 markets between January 7, 2022 and February 16, 2022