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Is working from home here to stay?

by Tony Pimpo
6 minutes read

Merriam Webster defines disruption as “the act or process of disrupting something: a break or interruption in the normal course or continuation of some activity, process, etc.” There is no doubt that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted each of our lives somehow. 

The results of lockdowns are impacting everyone professionally and personally. While much of this is a temporary disruption, Microsoft is taking a look at the lasting impacts that will affect itself and its customers. Will this crisis change the nature of the way that we work and learn? The answer from Microsoft is a resounding yes. 

It’s easy to make assumptions, but Microsoft is a data-driven company. The Microsoft Graph is one of the largest databases of information collected about work activities in the world. This database pulls in data from across the Microsoft portfolio – 365, Bing, Azure, Windows, as well as other applications and services. 

Some of these include Teams, Skype, SharePoint, and Outlook. All of it is randomized and anonymous, but the findings are going to help us make sense of what is happening and what we should expect from the future. The result is the Work Trend Index. The first report from this index has been released, with some of the key points listed below. 

  • People are finding a human connection through video 
    • Video for meeting and conference calls is being used twice as much as before 
    • Video calls have seen a 1,000 percent increase 
  • People are using video to connect in new ways 
  • Companies are canceling conferences and events for 2020 and moving these venues to an online model 
  • Microsoft itself has canceled all in-person events until July 2021 
  • People are embracing a more flexible work schedule 
    • Data indicates that workers are breaking up their day into chunks that work for them. This is borne out by the fact that Teams usage window has increased by one hour. This is calculated based on the span between when users first begin to use Teams in the morning and then become inactive in the evening. 
    • Microsoft believes this is driven by the fact that remote workers can choose to work on projects at the time of the day when they are most productive. 
    • We’ll add that a lack of acommute time (the bedroom to your office or desk, wherever it may be, is a whole lot shorter) is also contributing to this flexibility. 

Evidence of a continuing shift is that in China, there is still two times the number of Teams users each day. In addition, daily active users are increasing every week. We’re still early into this, but the data is pointing to permanent changes in behavior.  

The office isn’t going away. 

At Dynamic Consultants Group, we don’t believe the office is going away. There will always be a need for human interaction. Video teleconferencing can’t replace that altogether. However, this pandemic has led to the adoption of new technologies, a rethinking of business processes, and new operating procedures.   

What happens next  

  • New processes 
    • Once this over, work-from-home procedures and manuals will be developed by businesses based on what has been learned. 
  • Requesting a work-from-home day 
    • As a result of new procedures in place, businesses will likely be more willing to offer work-from-home abilities in the future, for those who enjoy it. This is something Dynamic Consultants Group has done in the past. 
    • A flexible schedule is a significant benefit that may be a determining factor in recruiting efforts. 
  • Creative scheduling 
    • For certain positions, we may see creative scheduling options, such as the availability to trade off and on (one week in the office, one week at home, every other day, etc.). 
  • Flexibility for hiring and sick time 
    • Some positions may be difficult to fill locally. With the right processes in place, additional employees in different geographic areas can be added. 
    • This can enable a diversity of experience, as well as support for different time zones 
    • Businesses can have the flexibility to encourage employees to work from home when they are experiencing mild sickness. This can have significant implications for the productivity of the whole company. 

While we don’t see companies switching to work-from-home altogether, having the flexibility to implement some of the procedures above can be quite an asset. One thing is for sure: companies without the processes to support these new shifts will be left behind. If you need a partner to assist your organization with a deployment of Microsoft Teams, contact us today.  

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