Who could imagine that employees’ return to the physical office would actually better support hybrid work? That’s the tack Microsoft is taking, with designs under construction and plans in motion to further bolster communications and collaboration platform Microsoft Teams, in addition to other star technologies. Bringing employees back in house is key to a special sort of multi-faceted development around the future of work. And it seems other companies have the same idea to draw out the best of both worlds.
Microsoft’s World Really is a Stage
It’s the act of physically recreating conference room meetings that improves the experience for people dialing in. In a sound stage-like lab environment, Microsoft teams tinker with nuances of where to place people and cameras. Movement is choreographed and feedback is easily relayed by onsite attendees who act as remote workers. It’s like a theatre rehearsal with all players working in the same space. And this setup helps Microsoft understand how to best support those meeting in person and virtually.
Little details make a big difference in a virtual meeting—especially table placement and the human tendency to physically lean in during interactions. For Microsoft, every insight gained in this live demo process is a potential opportunity to add value, a pursuit they are heavily invested in post-pandemic.
Unexpected Perk: Hybrid Work Creates More Focused In-Person Meetings
It’s not just Microsoft that sees value in the physical workspace. Eighty-nine percent of companies Deloitte recently surveyed are planning an in-person return to work. But hybrid work also factors into the strategy for two-thirds of respondents. It’s a challenge, walking the line between in-person and remote demand. Leaders are being tasked with a new and sometimes imaginative game plan for hiring, onboarding, operations, sales and customer service. Hybrid work seems to support more focused interactions when employees do connect, suggesting that leaders can improve experiences for all by intentionally organizing in-person interaction.
Steve Hatfield, a principal and global leader of Future of Work for Deloitte Consulting LLP, believes these trends will continue:
- Supporting business with digitization and digital transformation
- Tools enabling virtual connection and collaboration
- Automation (or machine learning) to offload repetitive tasks and engage employees with valuable work
- Technology enables efficiency but people, and humanity, are irreplaceable
- Workforces could involve stakeholders in addition to employees, including partners, vendors, contractors, etc. It’s the rise of the ecosystem.
The role of the office is in flux, from how companies manage commercial real estate investments—and how that space is used by the workforce. Many ideas are being explored, including a shift from cubicles and offices to different forms of meeting spaces, including open areas, breakouts and videoconference-equipped rooms. A rethink of physical space architecture and time is underway. Depending on the company, a 9-5 work week might involve part-time, condensed hours or even a four-day work week.
Regardless of changes being explored and discussed among leadership and employees, it’s clear based on global studies that rethinking the nature of work benefits employees and employers alike. Ongoing communication will be key.
Though the placement of employees and workspace physicality may change, the technical demands of supporting technology for a dispersed workforce will not. Using an IT service desk built in Microsoft Teams is an inexpensive way to accommodate infrastructure and employee changes while improving employee experience. See what Tikit products can do for you.