Microsoft Work Trend Index Shows Hong Kong Businesses Proactively Embracing Change as Hybrid Work Evolution Accelerates

Work Trend Index
  • Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index shows 65% of Hong Kong business leaders plan to redesign offices for hybrid work, while 62% are thriving in meeting the challenge to adapt

  • Hong Kong workers not looking back as 66% want flexible remote work to remain and 53% likely to move to new location as employers make remote work an option

  • Global study highlights seven emerging trends businesses must tackle head-on to ensure sustained workplace productivity and employee wellbeing

April 21, 2021, Hong Kong – Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ: MSFT) (“Microsoft”) today revealed that Hong Kong businesses and workers are embracing the hybrid work evolution with proactive plans for change in workplace environments and lifestyles. Findings from its first annual global Work Trend Index showed that despite prolonged disruption and uncertainty, Hong Kong employers and employees are meeting head-on the significant challenges from the shift to hybrid work.

Flexible work is here to stay as 66% of workers want remote working options to remain and over half (53%) are planning ahead by indicating their likelihood to move to new locations away from urban centers to optimize their new way of life. Business leaders are responding with positive change as 65% of business leaders plan to redesign office space for hybrid work. Almost two-thirds of business leaders say they are thriving as the hybrid work evolution is providing an opportunity for change that will re-energize organizations in the new normal.

“Hong Kong businesses have displayed remarkable resilience in the face of sustained and significant disruption from Covid-19, but they have not stood still as the 2021 Work Trend Index highlights the proactive mindset of leaders and workers to embrace the hybrid work evolution as an opportunity for positive change,” said Cally Chan, General Manager for Microsoft Hong Kong and Macau.

“Remote working extends far beyond video conferencing to collaboration and digitalization of other business operations. This includes contract signing, sharing of company proprietary data and information, HR functions like expenses and leave application, and many more. Hybrid working is the future and cybersecurity is key to ensure a secure workplace for the new era.”

To help organizations through the transition, the 2021 Work Trend Index outlines findings from a study of more than 30,000 people in 31 countries and regions, including Hong Kong and analyses trillions of aggregate productivity and labor signals across Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn. It also includes perspectives from experts who have studied collaboration, social capital, and space design at work for decades.

While the intent is clear, businesses must now meet the high expectations of their employees. Titled “The Next Great Disruption is Hybrid Work – Are We Ready?” the report identifies seven hybrid work trends to address as we enter this new era of work. The report indicates that business leaders in Hong Kong should resist the urge to see hybrid work as business as usual.

Seven hybrid work trends in Hong Kong that every business leader needs to know

One thing is abundantly clear: Microsoft is urging businesses to recognize that work is no longer bound to traditional notions of time and space when it comes to how, when, and where we work. Here are 7 emerging trends:

  1. Flexible work is here to stay: Workers have made their intentions clear with 66% wishing to retain their option to work remotely. The onus is now on businesses to provide options that give employees control of where, when, and how they work, and also to give everyone the tools they need to equally contribute from anywhere. For example, countries leading the charge for change had a high proportion of employees saying their employer helps with remote work expenses.
  2. Leaders are out of touch with employees and need a wake-up call: Research shows that 62% of leaders in Hong Kong say they are thriving right now – 30% higher than those without decision making power. Now more than ever, people are expecting their employers and leaders to empathize with their unique challenges – business leaders take note.
  3. High productivity is masking an exhausted workforce: 46% of workers in Hong Kong feel overworked and exhausted. Trillions of productivity signals from Microsoft 365 quantify the precise digital exhaustion workers are feeling. The shift to virtual collaboration has increased our digital intensity with the average number of meetings and chats steadily rising since last year. Encouragement for more in-person engagement and collaboration will be critical which places even more emphasis on shaping a modern workplace that is truly conducive to hybrid working models.
  4. Gen Z is at risk and will need to be re-energized: 56% of this generation in Hong Kong — those between the ages of 18 and 25 — say they are merely surviving or flat-out struggling. Younger generations offer fresh perspectives and their contributions are critical, and as the first generation to enter the workforce in a completely remote environment on a widespread basis, their experience will set expectations and attitudes toward work moving forward. Ensuring that Gen Z feels a sense of purpose and wellbeing is an urgent business imperative in the shift to hybrid.
  5. Shrinking networks are endangering innovation: Aggregate trends across billions of Microsoft Teams meetings and Outlook emails show interactions with our broader networks diminished with the move to remote work. 46% of workers in Hong Kong experienced decreased interactions with coworkers with the move to remote work. Teams are more siloed in a digital work world and while immediate teams and close networks grew tighter, interactions outside of those team, or distant networks, have diminished. Leaders must look for ways to foster the social capital, cross-team collaboration, and spontaneous idea sharing to drive workplace innovation.
  6. Authenticity will spur productivity and wellbeing: Coworkers leaned on each other in new ways to get through the last year. Some workers in Hong Kong have cried with a colleague (12%), and others have met their colleagues’ pets (21%) or families virtually (23%). These increased interactions have led to 40% of workers in Hong Kong feeling like they can be their full authentic selves at work this year.
  7. Talent is everywhere in a hybrid work world: More than half (53%) of those surveyed in Hong Kong are planning to move to a new location this year, indicating that people no longer have to leave their desk, house or community to expand their career opportunities. This fundamental shift expands economic opportunity for individuals and enables organizations to build high-performing, diverse teams from a near-limitless talent pool. The flip side is 49% of workers in Hong Kong and 62% of Gen Z in Hong Kong are likely to consider leaving their employers this year. Ultimately a more fluid flexible labor pool will benefit organizations in the long-run as fresh talent injects new ideas, innovation and energy into businesses – ensuring adequate stability will be the challenge

In summary, while the Work Trend Index uncovers what’s at stake with the future of work, the report identifies five strategies for business leaders as they begin to make the necessary shift:

  • Create a plan to empower people for extreme flexibility
  • Invest in space and technology to bridge the physical and digital worlds
  • Combat digital exhaustion from the top
  • Prioritize rebuilding social capital and culture
  • Rethink employee experience to compete for the best and most diverse talent

The Work Trend Index survey was conducted by an independent research firm, Edelman Data x Intelligence, among 31,092 full-time employed or self-employed workers across 31 markets between January 12, 2021 to January 25, 2021. This survey was conducted online, in either the English language or translated into a local language across markets. At least 1,000 full-time workers were surveyed in each market.

To view the full findings, visit Microsoft’s Worklab, a digital publication about the future of work.


About WorkLab

WorkLab is a Microsoft digital publication devoted to illuminating the future of work, grounded in research and the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic. By bringing together science-based insight and thoughtful, compelling stories on how work is changing, WorkLab’s mission is to start larger conversations about the future of work and help customers in the process.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

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