THE X FACTOR
Workers are winning
Data suggests that the worker - and not the employer - is currently driving workplace trends, and this influence is expected to grow as society re-emerges from the recent Covid-19 crisis:
All of these factors are converging, creating a perfect storm for employer and employee alike. While employees are reassessing their options, business leaders hoping to retain or attract top talent have made significant workplace changes:
Tech giant Microsoft is building its workplace around the desires of its employees, saying it will treat part-time remote work as “standard for most roles” going forward. In March of 2021, the company released its own perspective on hybrid work, calling it “the next great disruption” and stating: “Flexible work is here to stay, and the talent landscape has fundamentally shifted.” In other words, top talent in the tech sector demands a workplace of choice, and that is what competitive employers like Microsoft will seek to offer.
Software-as-a-service (SAS) firm Salesforce expects that most employees will be in the office one to three days a week. Given this, they plan to expand their recruiting efforts “beyond traditional city centers” to accommodate remote but coveted talent. Salesforce President & Chief People Officer Brent Hyder also cited employee feedback in an article on the company website: “Employee feedback has guided our re-opening strategy and how we’ll work going forward. We learned that nearly half of our employees want to come in only a few times per month, but also that 80 percent of employees want to maintain a connection to a physical space.” They are, he says, intermittently “hungry for the connection, camaraderie and innovation that come from gathering in-person.”
Standard Chartered Group
Standard Chartered Group recently cut a deal with IWG (parent company of Regus) to allow its employees to utilize any of the flex-office provider’s locations in 2021. Tanuj Kapilashrami, Head of HR at Standard Chartered, explained her firm’s approach as: “We ran three surveys last year, and the data was very clear. More than 75 percent of our colleagues globally wanted to work flexibly at least 50 percent of the time.” But the employees still wanted a place to gather as and when needed, and less than 10 percent wanted to be remote full time. For Kapilashrami, the lesson was clear. “It showed us we needed to design the future based around what our colleagues wanted.”
CEO at Microsoft5
“Over the past year, no area has undergone more rapid transformation than the way we work. Employee expectations are changing, and we will need to define productivity much more broadly — inclusive of collaboration, learning, and wellbeing to drive career advancement for every worker, including frontline and knowledge workers, as well as for new graduates and those who are in the workforce today. All this needs to be done with flexibility in when, where, and how people work.”
Clearly these issues posit complex possibilities for organizations and employees to consider. The workplace, whether physical or virtual, represents a crucial tool for companies to both recruit and retain top talent, as well as facilitate performance across core business functions. To the employee, the workplace is the most dominant environment (whether physical or virtual) in their life- it’s where they spend most of their time and can have pervasive effects on their outlook, wellness, and work/life balance.
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