From Microsoft Inspire 2022 – Creating a great employee experience in the era of hybrid work

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“Hybrid work is here to stay,” said Satya Nadella at this week’s Microsoft Inspire. He said it’s clear that flexibility and well-being are “non-negotiable” as new patterns of work emerge.

In fact, Nadella said companies need to prioritize the employee experience especially as work is increasingly happening “anywhere” and at “anytime”, which means the employee experience needs to adapt accordingly.

But before we look at how we do this, first let’s look at what the employee experience is.

The employee experience is often described as a company-wide initiative that deals with the day-to-day issues employees face at work. According to Gallup, the employee experience is “the journey an employee takes with your organization.

“It includes all the interactions an employee has with your organization before, during and after their tenure”. Satya Nadella took this one step further and redefined the employee experience as being “a digital-first solution, connecting every employee wherever they are and whenever they are working to facilitate engagement and retention”.

Why employee experience is important

A great employee experience will not only help employees stay productive, but it should also keep them healthy, engaged, and on track too. In fact, getting the employee experience right can improve engagement as well as keep people more motivated and productive.

  • Happy employees with a positive employee experience are up to 20% more productive at work, according to the Social Market Foundation 
  • Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by a massive 202% according to Business to Community research 
  • Organizations with engaged employees are 43% more productive says research by Hay Group 

In addition to keeping people motivated and productive, a good employee experience should also help to improve employee retention. According to the author of The Employee Experience Advantage, Jacob Morgan, he says:

In a world where money is no longer the primary motivating factor for employees, focusing on the employee experience is the most promising competitive advantage that organizations can create.

How to use digital workplace tools to improve the employee experience

Yet, in an era where hybrid work is becoming the norm, it’s not always clear how to provide a good employee experience for every workplace scenario. That’s where digital workplace technology comes in.

According to Microsoft, the digital employee experience should “help every employee do and be their best”. This means tech tools should facilitate meaningful collaboration and knowledge sharing whilst allowing employees to work flexibly, wherever, and how ever they work, after all, as Jared Spataro says:

Work is no longer just a place. It’s what people do, no matter where they are and how they come together to get the job done.

So, let’s look at some of the fundamental ways how we can create a great employee experience using digital workplace technology:

Internal communications

Internal comms’s primary role is to provide a flow of information between an organization’s departments and employees. Done well it should nurture company culture and build employee engagement too.

With so many companies adopting hybrid work permanently, the role of internal comms is more important than ever. In fact, employees who feel included in more detailed communication are nearly five times more likely to report increased productivity, says research by McKinsey.

The following are some suggestions how organizations can use digital workplace tools to enhance their internal comms:

  • Analytics: Introducing analytics allows admins to identify what content is resonating with their target audience and determine other useful insights such as time of day they’re engaging too.
  • Content acknowledgment feature: Adding a ‘must read’ function to the most important comms, such as policy or safety updates, is a good way for internal comms teams to see who has read it, who is engaged, and who needs a reminder.
  • Gamification: Incorporating gamification into comms makes sharing content fun and easy. In fact, research from the US revealed companies that use game-based motivation—including competitions, goal-setting, performance rewards, success statistics and status recognition— have happier employees – with 95% reporting they enjoy using it. 
  • Personalization: Allowing employees to ‘opt-in’ to content they want to see/read/receive based on their job function, location, language and interest helps to boost engagement.
  • Search: Introducing tags on content can instantly improve the discoverability of documents, which can save employees up to 1.8 hours every day, the equivalent of 9.3 hours per week, which, according to McKinsey, is how much time employees waste on average looking for documents.
  • Segmentation: Segmenting content when publishing meanscontent editors can filter and share content based on employees’ role, department, location and language. This helps to keep employees engaged as well as save them time, freeing them up to be more productive.


Employee collaboration has changed dramatically in hybrid work environments. There are now more options for when, where and how to collaborate. Organizations need to enable people to collaborate in-person or remotely to unlock productivity.

As Satya Nadella said at Microsoft Inspire, “space is the ultimate collaboration tool” that’s being redefined for this modern era of hybrid work. It won’t be traded away, however, from now on we are going to use it very differently.

Little surprise then that Microsoft Teams, with a record 270 million daily active users spending most of their working day there, has proven to be the hybrid collaboration platform. It’s the best collaboration tool to enable employees to work asynchronously or synchronously, whether, as Microsoft has identified, they’re:

  • Synchronous together: when employees are co-located, contributing to meetings in a shared space.
  • Synchronous apart: when employees are distributed but participating in virtual meetings.
  • Asynchronous together: when employees are in shared spaces, but not working at the same time.
  • Asynchronous apart: when employees are distributed, and individuals are conducting work at different times.

Digital workplace tools, such as Microsoft Teams, can facilitate collaboration by connecting employees to colleagues and departments regardless of where they’re working as well as a providing a searchable, centrally located knowledge base.

The following are some suggestions how organizations can use Teams, to enhance their collaboration:

  • Chat: Teams chat has been designed to help employees communicate in real-time and make decisions on the go. Colleagues can ask each other questions when working in the flow and can often get a speedy response. Yet, for colleagues working different hours or in different time zones the chats can be saved and will be ready for the next time they log on.
  • Document sharing: This is one of the most important productivity tools when employees are working remotely, according to Get App. In fact, Microsoft reports that 85% of Teams users use this function for collaboration on a regular basis. Whether employees are collaborating in real-time in the same location, remotely or at differing times and places, they can work together on the same document, be it text, a spreadsheet or a PowerPoint presentation, leaving comments, tagging someone for their approval, assigning action items, and sharing recognition for good work.
  • Mobile app: Giving all employees, including deskless workers and those without an email address, online access to a digital workplace, such as Teams, means everyone has the opportunity to be included in discussions and decision making, regardless of their role or location. Parity of access improves engagement and knowledge sharing.
  • Online video meetings: A staple of remote working, online video meetings are an efficient way to work. They’re a place where employees can share data, documents and presentations with team members in real-time. Microsoft has just announced three new features to improve these meetings including video messaging, collaborative annotations & Excel Live. Of course, for those unable to attend video meetings, employees can easily record the meeting and share the link. 

Employee wellness

People are redefining the role of work in their lives. More than ever employees are demanding the flexibility of hybrid work and are prioritizing both their health and wellbeing.

Therefore, employee wellness has risen to the top of the employee experience agenda, particularly as many reported experiencing burn-out during or after the pandemic. In fact, according to Microsoft 79 per cent workers said they experienced significant work-related stress which has led to lack of interest, motivation and effort at work – feelings which have contributed to the Great Resignation.

Employee wellness, which was once a HR priority, is now a business imperative, said Seth Patton at this week’s Microsoft Inspire. Keeping teams feeling healthy and happy and creating a better employee experience in a hybrid setting is now more important than ever.

Offering flexibility in where and when employees work is the first step in making this happen. Because when people feel good at work, they have a more meaningful employee experience and tend to have higher engagement, they’re more productive, creative and less likely to leave.

How to support employee wellness with digital workplace tech

So, let’s look at some of the ways how to use digital workplace tech to engage and develop employees to improve wellness:

Seamless integrations: Reduce context switching by integrating other internal systems into Teams, to ensure employees can access all the important information they need through a single portal. This way employees can see all their appointments, To Do lists, documents, people and even company updates in one click.

Single platform or hub: Reducing information overload is one of the best ways to alleviate the stress of employees. Introducing a single place where they can log on and get all the news and tools they need to do their job is the best way to create an experience that empowers everyone. Hubs like Teams also reduce reliance on email – taking away yet another information channel for employees to keep on top of.

Surveys and polls: Regularly touch base with employees by using surveys and polls to gather feedback on employee wellbeing. Surveys allow managers to learn valuable, honest feedback and help to motivate employees who feel like their voice is being heard. In fact, employees who feel their voice is heard at work are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work, according to Salesforce.

Transparent internal communication and great employee experience lead to improved employee well-being, motivation, and efficient workflow. From content creation to sharing, design, and measurement, the joint offering will empower organizations to deliver timely, impactful communication to their employees anywhere, anytime, on any device.

We know that our customers are grappling with how to make hybrid work work. Which is why we’re passionate about ensuring our products help them to create a culture that enables flexibility whilst uniting their organization around a shared purpose. Share your stories about how you’re using our products to help customers adapt to hybrid working. Plus, give us feedback on hybrid working tools you’d like to see on our roadmap. Contact our team today!

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