2020 has changed the work world permanently. Many companies had to suddenly transition to working remotely and, according to a Gartner survey, 74% of CFOs plan to shift some employees to remote work permanently. How else will changes from this year impact the future of work?
A Work Trend Index from Microsoft aims to predict just that. Microsoft surveyed over 6,000 information and Firstline workers in eight countries and studied how productivity patterns in Microsoft Teams have shifted over the year. Here are some of the biggest takeaways:
Remote Meetings Cause Fatigue
Microsoft’s Human Factors Labs, which studies how humans interact with technology, found that people find remote collaboration more mentally challenging than in-person collaboration. Microsoft reports that “brainwave patterns associated with stress and overwork were much higher when collaborating remotely than in-person,” and “brainwave markers associated with overwork and stress are significantly higher” during video meetings.
To combat fatigue, consider the following:
- Limit the length of meetings – try not to let meetings go over 30 minutes at a time
- Keep meetings small – involve only the people necessary
- Take frequent breaks – if you must have a long meeting, make sure to incorporate short breaks
- Set an agenda beforehand – prevent meandering conversation by establishing the topics you will cover ahead of time
Microsoft Teams has also released new updates to try to reduce meeting fatigue and increase human connection: together mode and dynamic view. Together mode places meeting participants in a digitally shared background, which is meant to make conversation more natural and virtual meeting less distracting. Dynamic view will use AI to optimize shared content and video participants. Users will also be able to personalize their view to suit their needs.
Remote Work Drives Empathy
As work and life continue to blend with the persistence of remote work, individuals are now tasked with balancing household work with their regular workload. Trying to work with children, roommates and other individuals in the home have made some people realize how difficult the work-life balance has been for their coworkers. Microsoft reports “62% of people … feel more empathetic toward their colleagues now that they have a better view of life at home.”
In addition to empathy for colleagues, remote work has also helped some people feel more valued in their job. Over half of the people Microsoft surveyed said they feel more valued or included now that everyone is in the same virtual room. A good collaboration platform, like Microsoft Teams, can help achieve this feeling because it is designed to be virtually inclusive.
The Traditional Workplace is Shifting
Since the start of the pandemic, people have begun working more in the mornings, evenings and on weekends. Microsoft reports seeing more team chats outside of work hours, with chats on Saturdays and Sundays increasing more than 200%. To help workers regain their time, Teams now allows you to set a focus status and quiet hours and days.
Despite this change in working hours and an increase in remote working, however, the physical office is not going anywhere. People are finding working from home to be distracting and isolating. Microsoft’s Work Index found that nearly 60% of the people surveyed feel less connected to their colleagues because of remote work and most do not live alone. This makes a physical space with a reliable Internet network, ergonomic workspaces, and the ability to connect with coworkers still an important part of work-life, even if it is not the primary location from which employees will work.
As the world continues to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work will continue to play a huge role in employees’ lives. With the changes in work hours, you’ll want a technology team that can handle any issues at any time on any day. ATSG’s rediManage identifies, isolates, and resolves incidents 24x7x365. Our team is also experienced with implementing a secure remote work environment, protecting your employees and your business from cyber-attacks. Make sure your business is as prepared as it can be as you continue to navigate the remote working world.
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