‘Remote’ work will define post-COVID-19 business landscape – Expert

The remote work adopted by business organisations at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak which was said to have evolved with blended, hybrid environments, now taking centre stage has been predicted to be the determinant of the post-pandemic business landscape.

Country Manager for Microsoft Nigeria, Ola Williams, quoted Microsoft’s latest Work Trend Index (WTI) as saying: “The best of both worlds is what employees surveyed in the WTI are after 73 per cent want flexible remote work options to continue, while 67 per cent are craving more in-person time with their teams.

“As a result, what we are seeing are brick-and-mortar offices hosting some staff on-premises, with other team members continuing to work from home, joining meetings online. This hybrid phenomenon is what Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365, refers to as the messy middle.”

Williams further said: “It references the fact that while many companies have mastered the art of having everyone working in the office pre-pandemic and having everyone working from home during the pandemic, a combination of the two has given rise to new issues. For example, physical boardrooms not being equipped with the right technology (think screens, audio, and the like) has left in-office staff unable to see or hear remote-working colleagues in meetings where collaboration is crucial.”

Speaking on the reason getting hybrid work right is good for business, Williams noted that: “Happy, productive employees are a key predictor of business success, which is why employers should be taking the prevailing workers’ desire to integrate remote work seriously. Remote work has opened new career opportunities for employees – not to mention that employers, too, benefit from a wider, geographically varied talent pool for hires.

“WTI figures show that 46 per cent of the globally surveyed employees were considering leaving their current employer because they can work from home. In the EMEA region, this figure, although lower at 36 per cent, is still significant. As such, a company’s approach to hybrid working will define “who stays and who goes,” the index notes.

While sharing what has worked for Microsoft, Williams said: “Just like the rest of the business world, we are learning as we roll out these hybrid-enabling changes.

“On what we have learnt, Microsoft Teams General Manager, Nicole Herskowitz, highlights that hybrid meetings have been a game-changer for shaping a successful work environment. The caveat? They need to be done well.

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