Today we introduce Shanna Bosmans as our very first Chief Hybrid Officer (CHO). The pioneering new role has been created to further drive the transformation of Microsoft’s hybrid way of working in the Netherlands. With this change, we also want to bring other organizations along in their search for the best way to shape the future of work, in the wake of the pandemic. While technology has proven to provide the basic infrastructure for remote and “hybrid” working, Microsoft believes that it is now time to focus on people by breaking old behavior patterns in work and organizational culture. Hybrid working comes with challenges such as: how do you stay connected with your organization and work efficiently in a hybrid way your team? Aligning clear team & work standards combined with the right use of technology are leading factors in this matter. At Microsoft, the CHO will play a key role in this transformation for Microsoft itself, while at the same time inspire customers and partners to start their future of hybrid working as well.
Shanna on her new role: “We are no longer the same people who were sent home in the early 2020s after the pandemic outbreak. “The last two years have dramatically changed the way we define work as part of our lives. What we’re seeing now is that people tend to quickly revert to their old work habits as the restrictions are being lifted. This is due both to people themselves and to expectations from the organization, which harks back to past habits. My job is to challenge this behavior and contribute to a culture change within organizations that enables ultimate flexibility, care, wellbeing and asynchronous working, with offices turning into social hubs.”
“What we notice at Microsoft is that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the way people want to work. Our preferences differ and our private and work lives require flexible work schedules. Why would we then require people to show up in the same place, at the same time, and spend time in the same meetings when these times are not convenient, or scheduled at a time when not everyone is in their sharpest frame of mind? We need to recognise that the only way to succeed as a company today, is by empowering employees to control where, when and how they work, in harmony with their personality and lifestyle. It is essential for organizations and managers to create clear work agreements with employees in accordance with the organizational culture.”
Making hybrid work work
Microsoft’s journey towards hybrid working, where employees have the freedom to choose how to combine working outside the office or in the office, started well before the pandemic accelerated this movement. This experience and early lessons learned proved valuable during the pandemic. Recent research from Microsoft shows that organizations around the world are still facing challenges in making hybrid work work. For example, our annual 2022 Work Trend Index survey shows that more than a third (39%) of Dutch employees who currently work hybrid wants to work completely remotely in the coming year, but managers don’t feel empowered to create team standards to facilitate this. More than two-thirds (65%) of managers in the Netherlands wish they could do more to drive change for their team, but they don’t have the influence or the resources. In addition, more than half (56%) of the managers indicate that management is out of touch with the workplace. Only 23 percent of employers have agreements with their team about when, how and why they go to the office. In short: there is a need for hybrid work, whether or not completely from home, but organizations and managers do not have the right processes and tools in place to realize this.
Organisations leaders to create new work model around 3 Ps: People, Places and Process
To achieve this, Microsoft has started implementing the required culture change by focusing on three areas:
- People – including asynchronous working where technology enables collaboration without having to be in the same room at the same time. The focus is on improving work-life harmony.
- Places – office spaces becoming social meeting hubs rather than places to work. In addition, meeting rooms must be made suitable for hybrid meetings; only 7 percent of meeting rooms currently meet this requirement.
- Processes – safeguarding the security challenges that hybrid working brings along.
Shanna: “A successful future of hybrid working requires commitment on all three levels. Still, I strongly believe hybrid working is in essence about people, their unique characteristics, and qualifications. Our objective is to make sure that every single one of them can reach their full potential, which in turn benefits the organization. I’m committed to further strengthen that culture of flexibility and personal well-being that we started building at Microsoft and hope we can inspire other organizations to follow our lead.”