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Remote work is making productivity and innovation harder, says Microsoft study

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The research found that the exchange of information was stymied by changes in communication methods.

Image: Shutterstock / Eakrin Rasadonyindee

A study of Microsoft employees in the US has concluded that the organization-wide switch to remote working in 2020 damaged communication and collaboration between different teams – while driving up working hours.

A peer-reviewed study of Microsoft’s 61,100-plus US workforce found that teams became more siloed and spent less time communicating with those outside of their immediate teams in the months after the software company instructed employees to work from home in March 2020.

The research, which was published in the journal Nature Human Behavior, also found that the exchange of information was stymied by changes in communication methods, with more employees spending less time in face-to-face meetings and more time speaking to each other via instant messaging and email. This meant less information was being shared between colleagues in real time, and more conveyed through less rich, “asynchronous” means.

SEE: Remote, hybrid or office-based? Employers are making big decisions about the future of work. This is what it might look like

Taken together, the study concluded that workers were less likely to create and maintain ties with colleagues working in different Microsoft business units, meaning they were also less likely to discover and share new information across the organization.

In an accompanying blog post, Microsoft researchers said that, while bonds were more likely to have been strengthened within teams, remote working in 2020 caused the amount of time workers spent collaborating with other groups to drop 25%.

“In light of these findings, companies will need to take proactive measures to try to help workers acquire and share new information across groups, so that productivity and innovation are not impacted,” the researchers said.

Microsoft’s research comes as organizations mull return-to-office plans, many of which have been temporarily scuppered by the spread of new COVID-19 variants. 

Since sending their workforces home in 2020, many companies have announced plans to continue indefinitely with allowances for remote working, including Twitter, Facebook, Slack, Salesforce, and Quora.

Proponents of remote work argue that teams don’t need to be face-to-face with each other for eight hours a day, five days a week to get work done, as well as the fact that working from home effectively kills commute times, eliminates office distractions, and helps restore some work/life balance.

Microsoft’s principal takeaway is that, regardless of how you mix remote and in-office work, the resulting change in how workers communicate could impact how effectively a company can innovate, by making organizational teams more siloed.

“Because remote and hybrid work are likely to persist even after the pandemic has ended, it is incredibly important to understand how these policies affect the ways that people collaborate with one another,” it said.

Microsoft’s study was met with a mixed response, with critics pointing out that the period during which the data was gathered (December 2019 to June 2020) was not reflective of remote working under normal circumstances.

SEE: When the return to the office happens, don’t leave remote workers out in the cold

It was also representative of a company whose workforce has traditionally been office-based: the study’s authors note that only 18% of its workers were working remotely prior to the pandemic, with the remaining 82% only switching to working from home in March 2020. This happened practically overnight, meaning the subsequent impact on communication and collaboration patterns is indicative of a workforce in extreme and sudden flux.

Since the forced switch to remote working, software giants have been rapidly expanding their collaborative tech offerings. Teams has been a huge revenue generator for Microsoft since companies flocked to video meetings in 2020, and Microsoft has been steadily pushing new updates to its communication and collaboration application aimed at bridging the gaps between remote and in-person communication. With this in mind, Microsoft’s latest findings suggest that despite the new technology, working remotely is still a work in progress.

Digital transformation

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/remote-work-is-making-productivity-and-innovation-harder-says-microsoft-study/#ftag=RSSbaffb68

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How an Unfair Dismissal Can Affect Your Remaining Employees

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If your business has lost an unfair dismissal claim, it will likely have a negative impact on your remaining employees. Here’s how…

So, you’ve lost an unfair dismissal claim, and are worried about the impact this may have on your company? Well, there’s no doubt that seeing a fellow employee experience an unfair dismissal can be off-putting for remaining employees, especially if they are aware of the situation behind the dismissal.

Specifically, it may affect morale and how employees feel regarding approaching management with concerns. It could also make them feel unable to speak up regarding any problems that they might be facing in the workplace in fear of being dismissed.

We’re here to inform you how an unfair dismissal can affect remaining employees and what you can do to reassure your employees. So, let’s take a look…

How Will Remaining Employees Be Affected?

They’ll Stress About Their Every Move at Work

We can expect this situation to subconsciously affect any person. Even if an employee has previously been recognised for their good work and value, they might be struggling with self-doubt following the unfair dismissal of a fellow employee. They might begin to overthink everything they do at work as they don’t know whether it will be considered as fireable.

This is likely to increase stress and burnout, and may even reduce productivity. All-in-all, it could lead to the person seeking employment elsewhere.

They’ll Bring Their Concerns Home

For some employees, the impact of another employee’s unfair dismissal won’t only concern them in the workplace. On top of this, it could also become a daily worry in their general life, finding a way to creep into their home.

This could potentially cause further issues, such as mental wellbeing and relationship problems. This is likely to act in a cyclical fashion; these troubles may follow them back to work, affecting morale and productivity.

They’ll Take More Sick Days

If an employee is feeling unhappy and stressed, it could lead to them taking significantly more sick days. A study of 1000 employees found that 32 percent of them take sick days because of feeling stressed.

How Can You Reassure Your Employees?

If you have unfairly dismissed an employee, it’s important to support and reassure your remaining employees during and after the fact. After all, they might feel obligated to stay quiet throughout the employment dispute and not address concerns. There is also the potential that you might be faced with a higher level of resignations if employees feel insecure in their job.

If you are in the process of dismissing an employee, ensure that you are accurately following the employment laws surrounding dismissing staff to prevent unfair dismissal claims from occurring. However, if this is already a problem for your workplace, here are some ideas for combatting the negative impact of it:

 

Address The Elephant in The Room

If it is noticeable that morale in the workplace has dropped, or even if you are concerned about your remaining employees regardless of a morale drop, you could arrange individual or an overall company meeting. Here, you can advise them of the unfair dismissal and how in the future the same mistake won’t be made, including the measures you are going to take to support them.

This means that, if people are concerned about something regarding the business or another employee, they should feel as if they can come forward and approach someone about it without feeling threatened that they might be fired for speaking out.

If they see you being transparent about the unfair dismissal, they might feel more relaxed. It might also prompt more employees to come forward with their concerns, even if it is regarding something they were worried about discussing even before the employment dispute.

A group of people sitting around a table with laptops Description automatically generated

Praise Employees for Their Work

A way to help reassure your remaining employees to avoid adverse feelings following an unfair dismissal is by noticing and informing them of the excellent work that they are doing. Perhaps incorporate a monthly reward for employees you have recognised working hard and doing well at their job.

Not only will it aid them in feeling at ease regarding the situation, but it could boost morale. A study actually found that 79 percent of employees who are appreciated and recognised for their work, work even harder. What’s more, 78 percent are more productive when rewarded for their good work.

An Unfair Dismissal Can Harmfully Affect Your Business as Well as Your Remaining Employees

From this, we can conclude that an unfair dismissal in your business can be seriously harmful in various ways. For starters, it could severely impact the business’ reputation to potential candidates, suppliers, and customers.

Furthermore, remaining employees could become unhappy in the workplace, and this will likely affect the running of the business. Employees might decide to resign and find employment elsewhere, and there could be an increase in sick days and an overall drop in morale and productiveness. Disputes between employees or employees and the business could correspondingly arise.

Therefore, it is simple to see that an unfair dismissal could potentially be catastrophic for a business. It is essential to avoid or quickly resolve and reassure employees if one has occurred. Aim to be transparent with employees, as it will help them be more trusting.

Finally, if you are pursuing a dismissal of an employee, ensure that employment laws are being exactly followed to prevent such problems from happening[AP1] .

Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained legal professional. Be sure to consult a lawyer/solicitor if you’re seeking employment law advice. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.

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Source: http://hrnews.co.uk/how-an-unfair-dismissal-can-affect-your-remaining-employees/

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7 Top Tips for EU Citizens Working in the UK Post-Brexit

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Working in a country that isn’t your homeland can be a particularly difficult task, especially if you are an EU citizen living and working in the UK post-Brexit. Read on for some tips on doing just that…

The impact of Brexit on EU citizens working in the UK has been considerably hard. Many already living and working in Britain have been faced with doubt over the future of their residence in the UK.

It’s important to know your rights to avoid any uncertainty or anxiety. In this article, we’ve have come up with seven top tips for EU citizens working in the UK post-Brexit. Take a look…

1.   Understand The EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS)

It’s essential to understand the EU settlement scheme. If you have not already applied to the scheme, you could be illegally living and working in the UK.

Any EU citizen must have applied to the EUSS deadline by the 30th of June 2021. If you have not already applied to the scheme, there are criteria for later deadlines and ‘reasonable grounds’ for not applying by the deadline. Some of these include:

  • Medical reasons
  • Domestic abuse
  • If you are joining family who lived in the UK by 31st December 2020 – this only applies if you were their family member by 31st December (excluding born or adopted children) and you are still their family when applying.

Without a reasonable exception or an application submitted, you must apply for a VISA.

2.   Understand the Dos and Don’ts of the EUSS

It might be simple to think you’ll be fine once you have applied to the EUSS. That said, there are many rules that come with applying for different statuses within the EUSS that people often overlook before continuing with their normal lives living and working in the UK.

As a member of the scheme, you need to ensure that you understand the ins and outs of it, particularly if you plan on staying in the UK for longer than five or 10 years. In this case, there are certain guidelines that you must follow to progress your status further. Without this, you will be at risk of getting caught out and not being eligible.

3.   Apply For a New Status

For those who applied to the EUSS scheme before the June 2021 deadline, you would have been given a status depending on the period of time spent living in the UK. This will either be ‘pre-settled’ (less than five years) or ‘settled’ (five years or more).

If you plan to continue staying in the UK for work rather than moving back to your home country, you will need to keep an eye on your status and the expiry date to know when you need to apply for a new status.

Once you have lived in the UK for five years, you could be eligible to apply for the settled status, which allows you to stay in the UK for however long you please. After 12 months, the settled status means you have the possibility to apply for British citizenship depending on if you meet the requirements.

It is wise to keep in mind that if you have left the UK for more than six months in a 12 month period without a reasonable explanation, your settled status application could be denied. This means you will need to reapply for pre-settled status.

You must apply for your settled status before your pre-settled status ends; otherwise, you will have missed the deadline and instead need to apply for a visa to stay in the country.

4.   Apply For British Citizenship

If you have lived in the UK for 10 years, you could be eligible to apply for British citizenship. This will provide the right to live and work in the UK indefinitely without immigration restrictions. Having British citizenship means you will have the following benefits:

  • The right to hold a British passport.
  • Permanent right to live in the UK.
  • No restrictions on the right to work.

This will make life easier, especially concerning jobs, as you won’t need to go through immigration documents with your employer as you are a British citizen. The process will be quicker and less stressful.

5.   Apply For a Visa

If you are not planning on living in the UK but are working in the UK for a short or long period or occasionally throughout a year, you will need to apply for a visa. There are different variations depending on the type of work that you intend to do in the UK. The government website explains each of these in more detail.

6.   Advise Friends and Family

Whilst working in the UK, you might have met friends who are from an EU country or perhaps you moved to the UK with family. Whether it be a partner, children, parents, etc. ensure that they are aware of the updated rules following on from Brexit. Without this, there is the risk that they might be unable to continue staying in the country.

7.   How To Prove Your Immigration Status

Once your status has been granted under the EUSS, you can use the view and prove service on the GOV.UK website to prove your right to work in the UK. It means that instead of holding physical documents and providing copies, it can be accessed digitally. This way, employers or anyone else who needs to view your documents is able to with your ‘share code’ and date of birth.

They will only be able to view what you want them to as when you click ‘prove your status’ it will ask you the reason. 

If you need more information regarding your immigration status for employers, GOV.UK have an immigration status document with all the helpful information that you need[AP1] .

Don’t Be Caught Out Post-Brexit

If you want your future life in Britain, it is essential that you don’t get caught out by deadlines for status changes and applying to EUSS if you are eligible under a late application. Employers will not employ you without the correct documents.

If you haven’t applied, or missed the expiry date of your status, you will be living and working in the UK illegally. This could potentially stop you from receiving citizenship in the future.Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained legal professional. Be sure to consult a legal professional if you’re seeking advice regarding your British residency or citizenship. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the informat

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Source: http://hrnews.co.uk/7-top-tips-for-eu-citizens-working-in-the-uk-post-brexit/

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Facebook to invest heavily in the EU, hire 10,000

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Facebook is gearing to invest heavily in the European Union and create 10,000 jobs. It is looking at leveraging its universities, consumer market as well as ace quality talent.

The tech major will rely on European talent, including ‘specialised engineers’, to build a metaverse — an online world where people can work, communicate and even game in the virtual space with the help of virtual reality (VR) headsets.

To create this virtual universe, about 10,000 skilled professionals will be required, and Facebook is all set to fish from the European talent pool over the next five years.

The tech company has already pumped in $50m (£36.3m) to fund non-profit groups to construct the metaverse in a responsible manner.

Facebook has made it evident that it will work on creating the metaverse on priority. To create this VR version of the Internet, it intends to enter into collaborations over the next decade or so.

Once the metaverse becomes a reality, there will be no difference between the digital and physical worlds. All people have to do is probably wear the VR glasses and feel as if they are speaking to a friend in person despite them being geographically distanced from them.

Facebook was recently in the news for all the wrong reasons, when it was revealed that the Company tried to hide the fact that its sites were capable of doing harm to the mental health of youngsters. The Company faced a lot of criticism when a former employee disclosed that the Company had intentionally concealed the results of its internal study that showed the adverse effects of Instagram on the mental condition of teenage girls.

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Source: https://www.hrkatha.com/news/global-hr-news/facebook-to-invest-heavily-in-the-eu-hire-10000/

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How to Survive the Corporate World After Going Remote

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The corporate world was for many, perhaps most, something they enjoyed a now almost two-year break from. But as things have opened back up and companies have requested their workers return to a formal office setting, people find themselves wondering “how am I going to survive the corporate world again”? Returning to the office will be like riding a bike in some ways and will entail major culture and lifestyle shocks in others. Below is a guide on how to survive the corporate world after having gone remote for so long. 

Get into an Office Routine Before Going Back

Do you have a long commute ahead of you every morning and evening? Then it’s time to get back into the habit of getting up and going to bed earlier. A lot of people got used to the extra time they had in the evenings and mornings to take it easy, but a return to the office will change that. A good way to ease into the transition is to set your alarm a few minutes earlier each day until you’re getting up when you need to for your commute. 

It isn’t only a matter of getting up early; your food habits may also need to change. If you’ve been eating dinner earlier than usual since you’ve been at home, try rescheduling your meals to when you’d normally eat after your work commute. That way, when you return to work, you won’t be as hungry when you arrive home. 

Revisit Your Budget

You may have found other ways to spend your money in lockdown, or you may be enjoying the extra cash, thanks to the money saved on commuting, the lunches out and after-work drinks. Prepare yourself mentally and physically for changes to how you spend your disposable income by reviewing your budget and making sure you have enough money set aside for commuting costs, morning coffees, and lunches out.

Learn to Identify Signs of Slipping Mental Health

Mental health issues are more prevalent than most people think. Around one in four adults in the United States suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder in a given year. The past two years have been hard on mental health, and many people have either learned self-care or learned to bottle things up. They may even be ignorant of the signs of diminishing mental health and not realize there is a problem until it is too late. 

As you return to the office, spend some time learning about self-care and especially how to identify the signs that you may be suffering from anxiety, depression or PTSD. The best way to prevent any of these from getting in the way of a successful return to the office is to inform yourself on how they manifest so that you can take steps to address the causes and mitigate the symptoms. 

Take it as an Opportunity for Change

Returning to work also implies a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reevaluate your career choices and how you work. You can make the most of the transition back by prioritizing tasks and activities that were difficult or impossible to complete remotely. These things include face-to-face meetings or catching up with coworkers over lunch — interactions that will also help you get back into the social rhythm of the office.

If you are dreading your commute, try to find ways to use that time constructively. Learn something–whether professional or personal. Get a head start on emails so you can relax and enjoy your coffee when you sit down at your desk.

And what about when you get home in the evening? It is important to know when to put the laptop away and turn off notifications. Returning to the office is an excellent opportunity to recover some of the work-life balance that may have been lost during your time working remotely.

Conclusion

Despite remote work being relatively young when compared to the amount of time we have spent working in offices, two years away from that routine still necessitates some readjusting. You might not expect it, but there will likely be a learning curve as you transition back into the traditional corporate world. Keep the above considerations and recommendations in mind and make your return to office life as seamless and painless as possible. 

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Source: http://hrnews.co.uk/how-to-survive-the-corporate-world-after-going-remote/

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