As the Covid-19 progresses and businesses have for the most part adjusted to a nearly total remote work environment, much is still uncertain about what the future holds.
In an effort to understand specifically how work productivity, technology use has evolved in the last few months Microsoft recently released findings of a series of studies with the goal of shedding a light on what the future of work may look like, and help businesses prepare and continue to adapt.
We've summarized three of the study's key findings that caught our attention and that we believe will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on work life.
1. Video meetings lead to fatigue
An unsurprising yet interesting finding of the study relates to how worker performance is negatively impacted with the increase of video as a substitute for in-person interactions.
Brainwave markers associated with overwork and stress are significantly higher in video meetings than non-meeting work like writing emails. Further, due to high levels of sustained concentration fatigue begins to set in 30-40 minutes into a meeting.
Looking at days filled with video meetings, stress begins to set in at about two hours into the day. The research suggests several factors lead to this sense of meeting fatigue: having to focus continuously on the screen to extract relevant information and stay engaged; reduced non-verbal cues that help you read the room or know whose turn it is to talk; and screen sharing with very little view of the people you are interacting with.
According to the study, it is therefore recommended taking regular breaks every two hours to let your brain re-charge, limiting meetings to 30 minutes, or punctuating long meetings with small breaks when possible.
2. The pandemic will have a lasting impact on work
Blending of work and daily life is perhaps one of the most difficult challenges with this sudden mass exodus to remote work. While this long-term trend may have already been there, having all household members including children has given an accelerated peek into what the future may hold.
In the study, if was found that over half of the parents we surveyed (54%) said it’s been difficult balancing household demands while working from home. This burden was felt most heavily by millennials as well as new entrants to the workforce, Generation Z. This may be because this group is more likely tasked with caring for younger children or sharing workspaces with roommates while managing a full-time job.
3. The 9 to 5 workday may be fading away
Work schedules are seeing perhaps one of the more lasting impacts of this new remote work environment, particularly with the increase in collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams or Slack.
Analyzing MS Teams usage data across the world, Microsoft found that the average time between a customer’s first and last use of Teams had increased by over one hour as of June, 2020. In this report, they explored this concept further – is the 9 to 5, five-day workweek still disappearing? The data suggests, yes. In Teams, people are working more frequently in the morning and evening hours, but also on the weekends. Teams chats outside of the typical workday, from 8-9 a.m. and 6-8 p.m., have increased more than any other time during the day – between 15% and 23%. Weekend work is spiking as well – Teams chats on and Saturday and Sunday have increased over 200%.
Click here for full details of Microsoft’s research study and original findings