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Flexible working is here to stay, claims Microsoft

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/bikeriderlondon)

Hybrid (or flexible) working, whereby employees switch frequently between the office and home, is a movement gaining more supporters by the day, according to a new report from Microsoft.

Based on a poll of roughly 9,000 managers and employees, the report states that more than nine in ten (91 percent) UK workers expect to enjoy a hybrid approach to working in the long term.

One of the main benefits is the ability to maintain productivity levels, while affording employees greater freedom when it comes to working hours and location. Perhaps surprisingly, ensuring business continuity during the pandemic was not one of most significant issues for UK businesses, the report claims.

Instead, challenges with remote and hybrid working are human-centric, as almost half (41 percent) admitted to struggling with creating a strong and unified team culture. Another important challenge for managers is how to effectively delegate and empower virtual teams, something almost two thirds (64 percent) of the respondents struggled with.

Employees themselves are also feeling the sting, as maintaining work relationships, team cohesion and coping with greater silos proved challenging.

The success of teamwork in a hybrid world, the report concludes, depends on much more than just having the right tools. People need to feel empowered to connect, take smart risks and speak up with fresh ideas.

“So, the challenge for businesses will be ensuring people feel connected to their teammates and to clearly see how the work they do as a team contributes to realizing the vision of the company," the report explained.

"Successful teams will be characterized by how productive they are as well as the sense of comradery, empathy and trust each team member feels."