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A ban on hybrid working? Workers say they would rather quit instead

A survey from Microsoft has found that staff will quit if their employers won't offer hybrid work as an option.
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Written by Liam Tung, Contributor on

If you're running a business and are pushing hard to get your workers back to the office full-time, you might want to consider the results of Microsoft's survey, which found that over half of employees would consider quitting if there was no hybrid option. 

Whether these employees would actually quit is another matter, but at least when asked by YouGov in a survey commissioned by Microsoft — an advocate of hybrid work — some 51% would quit if the current mix of remote and office work vanished. 

As Microsoft contends in a blogpost, hybrid work has become a "must-have" as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SEE: Want to get things done in tech? You'll need these surprising new allies

Human Resources (HR) managers mostly seem to agree with the benefits of hybrid for employees. Some 59% of HR decision makers agreed that "hybrid working has had a positive effect on the mental wellbeing of their workforce."

The survey was conducted between October 7 and 15, 2021 with 2,046 employees and 504 HR decision makers in the UK. 

The findings come amid signs there is a 'great resignation' taking place in parts of Europe and the US. How long it lasts is another question, though. Some 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs in September, in search of better conditions amidst a tight labor market. It's been dubbed the "Big Quit". But as CNBC recently reported, the trend may be short-lived or at least is a consequence of ongoing pandemic income support that dampens labor market participation.  

Quitting and job-switch rates hit record highs in recent months in the UK, too. "Total job-to-job moves also increased to a record high of 979,000, largely driven by resignations rather than dismissals, during the July to September 2021 period," the Office for National Statistics reported in November. That's the highest level in two decades. 

Microsoft points to another quirk produced by remote work in the pandemic. A full 36% of UK workers who started after the pandemic began were onboarded to the employer without ever setting foot in the workplace.

This has had impacts on the social element of work, with 42% reporting they've struggled to form relationships with new colleagues, 33% reporting a lack of direction from managers, 24% saying they struggled to learn new software and applications, 23% failing to earn the confidence of colleagues, and 21% not feeling the company culture. 

Over a third (36%) of HR managers felt it was difficult to train new employees, while 35% weren't confident new staff had access to the right information. 

SEE: What is digital transformation? Everything you need to know about how technology is reshaping business

Despite these HR training issues, employees and HR managers believe the benefits of hybrid outweigh the costs. 

The positive spin for Microsoft is that 37% of HR managers believed access to the right technology made onboarding workers under hybrid arrangements a solvable challenge. 

Microsoft has been gearing up for a long-term shift to hybrid work with new in-meeting and remote features for its communications platform Teams, and more. 

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