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Hybrid new normal of work brings new challenges: Microsoft

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to transform our daily lives, the Asia-Pacific region has accelerated the increase in overall technology adoption, realising a hybrid new normal of work that comes with its own set of challenges, Microsoft said today.

Microsoft, with research from TechRepublic Premium, looked into the impact the pandemic has had on the region's legacy work styles and business operations.

Microsoft found that while organisations have prioritised technology adoption to enable remote working environments and overall business transformation, the change was not driven through technology alone.

According to Joe Sweeney, IBRS Advisor and Future of Work Expert, one common response among people in their jobs is to "work harder and not switch off."

Those who have started working from home are fielding calls from their bosses late into the evening, underlining the need to redraw boundaries for out-of-hours contact.

Organisations will need to reassess how performance is measured. Collaboration tools can measure activity but not the value that an individual has brought to the organisation.

Organisations are now finding that it is the "introverts" that are delivering while working from home, while the "star player" extroverts are no longer the centre of attention.

The research found that nearly half (47 per cent) of people working from home reported managing at-home distractions as a challenge.

"Organisations as well as managers and teammates should do their part to not only help employees create a distraction-free environment but also be more flexible in the delivery of work and empathize with people's challenges of working from home," said the research paper.

As technology becomes a growing staple for employees, training will need to go hand-in-hand to unlock the full potential of hardware and software.

"As different parts of the world were hit by Covid-19, life and work were changed overnight for everyone," said Kady Dundas, Head of Marketing, Microsoft Teams.

"We know that we have about 200 million meeting participants each day, which equates to 4.1 billion minutes of meetings. Those data points show the tremendous movement to remote work," Dundas added.

To cultivate the future workplace, organisations in the region would need to accelerate the process of developing policies enabling individuals to break away from the standard 9 to 5 hours, setting reasonable expectations around availability and relooking performance indicators.

"Business leaders must refresh their focus on policies that enable the upkeep of robust security strategies and effective collaboration. As lockdowns continue to ease across the region, the next step will be a renewed focus on policy during this hybrid new normal of work," said Microsoft..