74 per cent of Indian workers keen on flexible remote work options: Microsoft India report

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on June 10, 2021

The future of work is hybrid, indicate findings

Indian workers are increasingly preferring flexible remote work options with the future of work being hybrid, according to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index.

Microsoft India today announced the country-specific findings of its first annual Work Trend Index, which reveals insights, challenges, expectations, and motivations that will shape the future of work in India.

As per the report, 74 per cent of Indian employees want more flexible remote work options. Meanwhile, 73 per cent of employees are also craving more in-person time with their teams.

To accommodate hybrid work requirements, 73 per cent of business decision-makers are considering redesigning physical spaces.

The post-pandemic workplace will be defined by flexible and hybrid work, as per the report. Employees were mandated to work remotely over the past year owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. The move has “boosted feelings of inclusion for workers because everyone was in the same virtual room.”

“But the move to hybrid will need to ensure employees are given the flexibility to work when and where they want, as well as the tools they need to equally contribute from wherever they happen to be,” the report said.

Employees are also increasingly relying on their colleagues. 24 per cent of Indian employees said that they have cried with a colleague and 35 per cent of people are less likely to feel embarrassed now when their home lives show up at work. As living rooms made way for work meetings, 37 per cent of people got to meet their coworkers’ families.

Furthermore, genuine interactions with coworkers are helping to foster a workplace where 63 per cent of Indian workers said they are more likely to be their full, authentic selves at work.

However, the shift to remote work has also shrunk employees’ networks. Anonymised collaboration trends between billions of Outlook emails and Microsoft Teams meetings indicated that between April 2020 and February 2021, the number of people sending chats posted in a Teams channel which are meant for the whole team has decreased by 5 per cent. In contrast, the number of people sending small group or one-on-one chats has increased by 87 per cent.

Among the Indian workforce, 29 per cent have experienced decreased interaction with coworkers.

Increased workload an issue

The shift to remote work has led to an increased workload for employees. Even as the “self-assessed” productivity has remained the same or higher for many employees over the past year, 57 per cent of Indian employees feel overworked while 32 per cent feel exhausted.

62 per cent of the Indian workforce admitted feeling that their companies are asking too much of them at a time like this while 13 per cent said that their employer doesn’t care about their work-life balance, as per the report.

“The digital intensity of workers’ days has increased substantially in the last year,” the report said.

There has been a 2.5X increase globally in the time spent in Microsoft Teams meetings. 62 per cent of Teams calls and meetings are unscheduled or conducted ad hoc and the average Teams meeting is 10 minutes longer, up from 35 to 45 minutes year-over-year. The average Teams user is sending 45 per cent more chats per week and 42 per cent more chats per person after-hours. Despite the overload, 50 per cent of people respond to Teams chats within five minutes or less.

In India, Gen Z, appeared to be suffering and need to be re-energised, the report further stated. Nearly 71 per cent of this generation — those between the ages of 18 and 25 admitted to struggling.

“Survey respondents reported that they were more likely to struggle to balance work with life and to feel exhausted after a typical day of work when compared to older generations. Gen Z also reported more difficulty feeling engaged or excited about work, getting a word in during meetings, and bringing new ideas to the table when compared to other generations,” the report added.

Talent on the move

One of the positives of the shift to remote work is an increased talent pool. Remote job postings on LinkedIn increased more than five times in the last year. Nearly 62 per cent of India’s workforce (including 51 per cent of Gen Z) expressed their intention to switch jobs this year. Globally though, 41 per cent of employees are considering leaving their employers this year. With the ability to work remotely now, nearly 68 per cent of Indian workers are likely to move to a new location.

“This fundamental shift expands economic opportunity for individuals and enables organisations to build high-performing, diverse teams from a near-limitless talent pool,” the report said.

The 2021 Work Trend Index outlines findings from a study of more than 30,000 people in 31 countries and analyses trillions of aggregate productivity and labour 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.

Hybrid- the future of work

The shift to hybrid work is a strategic business opportunity for organisations that now requires a new operating model. Microsoft shared learnings about reimagining the workplace in its Hybrid Work Playbook with a focus on people, places and processes.

Rajiv Sodhi, Chief Operating Officer, Microsoft India, said, “If we have learnt one thing in the last year, it's that we are no longer bound to traditional notions of space and time when it comes to how, when, and where we work. The Work Trend Index findings attest that remote work has created new opportunities but there are challenges ahead as well.”

“We believe hybrid work is the future, and a successful hybrid strategy will require extreme flexibility. As every organisation fundamentally reimagines itself for the hybrid work era, we are collectively learning and innovating on how we will shape the future of work in India. It’s time to embrace work as a frame of mind, not a place you go,” added Sodhi.

Published on June 10, 2021

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