Cally Chan, General Manager of Microsoft Hong Kong and Macau
A huge compulsory experiment in home working is coming to an end as the Covid-19 situation is under control. A new voluntary experiment has just begun. Many organizations and business leaders are exploring the new way of hybrid work, a mix of on-site and remote working in a way of achieving both wellbeing and productivity.
Hybrid work is here to stay
The pandemic has fundamentally changed how people value where they work, how they work, and most importantly, why they work. With the release of Microsoft Work Trend Index 2022 report (“the report”), we know that people have reshaped their priorities towards work in the past two years. My immediate top of mind, upon studying the five key findings, is that hybrid work is here to stay, and that’s why the quality of worklife matters.
Photo 1: Five key findings of hybrid work that business leader should know (details here)
According to the report, the past two years have reshaped our priorities. People prioritize welling and set healthy boundaries. 64% of respondents are more likely to put family and personal life over work than they were pre-pandemic. Meantime, Hybrid Work Paradox still exists. Employees want the remote work option to continue, and they also want more in-person connections. Half of respondents feel less work friendships since going hybrid or remote, which may be contributing to feelings of loneliness. Most importantly, weekly meeting time for Team users has more than doubled since the onset of the pandemic. Spending too much time online without regular breaks may easily cause work stress and digital burnout.
All these findings reflect consistent with our customers’ inquiries I received from time to time, especially after the 5th wave of Covid-19. As the Great Reshuffle continues, the best leaders need to create a culture that embraces flexibility and prioritizes employee wellbeing to preserve the company’s core values and drive long-term growth.
Best practice to manage work-life balance
What is the most basic thing leaders can do first to foster team connection? I’ll say focus on the fundamentals, for example, prioritization, productivity, work-life balance, a supportive team culture, and purpose of work. Too narrowly focused on social events like happy hours and off-sites might miss the targets. When turning deeper concern on employee experience, Microsoft Viva Insights app in Microsoft Teams is here to provide individuals, managers, and leaders with data-driven, privacy-protected visibility into how work patterns affect employee wellbeing and productivity.
The personal dashboard in Viva Insights provides data to understand how much time employees spend in meetings and email, and how much time they spend outside business hours. Then employees will be able to create a more balanced schedule, for example, scheduling focus time to work uninterrupted with Microsoft Teams notification silenced. This helps protect their productive hours, preserve their free time, and strike a rewarding work-life balance to avoid burnout.
Photo 2: On the Viva Insights Dashboard, employees can log how they’re feeling throughout any given day or week. This information can be valuable for managers to protect their employees’ wellbeing and ensure they’re not facing burnout.
Digital transformation through automation helps business recovery
Another lesson learnt from the pandemic is business continuity that can be achieved by increased use of business automation. Recovery won’t be easy, but it proves that businesses using automation software are a lot more confident about their plans going forward and recovering more quickly in the time of post-pandemic. Many local business leaders have started moving up roadmaps for automation when workers are not able to work from offices.
To speed up their digital transformation, some are even democratizing software creation. Using no-code and low-code platforms, people with no technical background can become co-creators of software solutions – they’re named as citizen developers. Employees can quickly and efficiently build professional applications on no-code low-code platforms such as Microsoft Power Platforms on Teams, simply taking drag-and-drop approach without any coding knowledge.
For example, automate outdated manual tasks with Power Automate, track project costs and quality with Power Apps, answers customer questions with Power Virtual Agent, surface insights in your data with Power BI. So now, what do you win? Understand the big picture and begin with a small but scalable pilot. One of the quick-wins is to streamline your workflow and business process to auto-file and auto-name documents, which indeed will save time and reduce error, leading to an increased ROI.
Simply put, citizen development has become the one-way ticket to the future hybrid work to maintain business continuity. A company supported by citizen development will experience an instant increase in its productivity and resilience. Choosing the right way to deploy business automation and your business will be able to boost efficiency.
Create positive impact on both work life balance and productivity
Microsoft Teams enables people to create, collaborate and communicate. And now, it’s a good buddy to manage worklife quality and empower people to get work done. To rise to today’s challenges at hybrid work, successful business leaders are making changes at their own pace while addressing both employees’ concerns on wellbeing and business needs for productivity and growth. Once ready equipped with the right tools and right mindset, you will be able to adapt and scale up innovation across your entire operations in the era of hybrid work.