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Meet the New Work Metric—the 'Worth It' Equation

Andriy Popov Alamy Stock Photo.jpg

Image: Andriy Popov - Alamy Stock Photo
Welcome to the latest WorkSpace Connect News Wrap, our periodic recap of the news related to the modern workplace, the professionals that make it happen, and the products and services that enable it. In this edition, we examine the managerial to-dos Microsoft unearthed in its latest work trend index.
Microsoft earlier this month released its 2022 work trend index, "Great Expectations: Making Hybrid Work Work," and introduced what it calls the "worth it" equation. According to Microsoft, "Employees’ 'worth it' equation — what people want from work and what they’re willing to give in return — has changed. The power dynamic is shifting, and perks like free food and a corner office are no longer what people value most."
By observing why people leave jobs, Microsoft discerned that more workers are prioritizing their personal time. Out of the top five reasons people quit, three centered around employees taking greater control over when and how they worked. The reasons were: personal well-being or mental health (24%), work-life balance (24%), risk of getting COVID-19 (21%), lack of confidence in senior management/leadership (21%), and lack of flexible work hours or location (21%).
The survey also shows no clear consensus on where workers prefer to do their jobs. While 51% of workers who currently have hybrid arrangements want to move to a fully-remote job, a slightly bigger percentage of fully-remote workers (57%) want to move to a hybrid arrangement. There is a slight generational bias: Among Gen Z workers (whom Pew Research defines as anyone born in 1997 or after, making them the workers in their 20s now), 58% of Gen Z workers are considering a shift to hybrid work in the year ahead versus 53% of workers overall, and 56% of Gen Z workers are considering a shift to remote work in the year ahead versus 49% overall.
The shift to hybrid and remote work has resulted in a longer workday, Microsoft found. The report stated:
“Since February 2020, the average Teams user saw a 252% increase in their weekly meeting time and the number of weekly meetings has increased 153%. The average Teams user sent 32% more chats each week in February 2022 compared to March 2020 and that figure continues to climb. Workday span for the average Teams user has increased more than 13% (46 minutes) since March 2020, and after-hours and weekend work has grown even more quickly, at 28% and 14%, respectively.”
However, these aren't lengthy conferences: meetings under 15 minutes now make up a majority of all meetings (60%) and are increasing more than any other meeting length (39% between February 2021 and 2022).
Management Faces a Few New Pressures in the Changing Workplace.
First, more workers want their bosses to set clear expectations around why, when, and how often teams should gather in person. The report states, "More than a third (38%) of hybrid employees say their biggest challenge is knowing when and why to come into the office. Yet few companies (just 28%) have established team agreements to clearly define the new norms."
Another emerging managerial pressure is how to build intra-team relationships. It's a proven workplace winner: Employees who have thriving relationships with their immediate team members report better well-being than those with poor relationships (76%), higher productivity (50%), and less inclination to change jobs (61%). And strong networks across teams matter, too: Employees with thriving relationships beyond their immediate team members are more satisfied with their employer (76%), more fulfilled by their work (79%), and better able to roll with workplace stress (40%).
Microsoft reports that it's easier for hybrid employees to maintain team relationships and cross-team relationships than for fully-remote workers, and workers who changed jobs or came on board in the past two years need extra support.
The job of managers, the report concludes, is to foster a team environment where making interpersonal connections is prioritized and valued:
“When work-life balance is out of whack, most people cut out relationship-building for more urgent matters,” says Constance Noonan Hadley, an organizational psychologist who studies workplace relationships. “Regardless of remote status, building relationships will still feel like a luxury worker cannot afford unless there is a shift in how time is prioritized and valued by managers.”
To read the full report, click here.