Microsoft shares hybrid work data in most painful fashion humanly possible

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The Visitor's Center at Microsoft Headquarters campus is pictured July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington.Source: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images for Microsoft

When you work for a site with a focus on any particular company, you’re bound to end up writing about some relatively small scoops that only appeal to a narrow niche of readers. However, Microsoft and LinkedIn have taken advantage of that fact to release one of the most empty, yammering stories I can recall reading and reporting on, with the Windows 11 maker knowing full well that a relatively quiet end of the week will compel coverage of an absolutely unexceptional Redmond-penned essay on “the new normal” of work.

At best, Microsoft’s piece is a hollow re-expression of concepts everyone at this point in the year of our Lord, 2021, is already familiar with. The pandemic has caused “fundamental changes in the global labor market.” Hybrid work is “the new normal.” And that, despite these hurdles, “we don’t have to be physically together to feel like we’re in it together.” We get it, Microsoft. We all row the boat. Wink-wink.

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And calling the writeup a hollow retread of well-worn ground is the glass half full perspective. At worst, Microsoft’s post is just a flagrantly self-congratulatory exercise that the company wants us all to watch. “At Microsoft and LinkedIn, we want to take a learn-it-all approach, and lead with data rather than dogma.” “In a year when we sent 160,000 people home to work and remotely onboarded 25,000 new employees, the share of people who report feeling included at Microsoft is at an all-time high of 90%.” Enough, Microsoft!

It’s reading material that’s hard to swallow, and what’s worse is seeing those who are reporting on it doing so as though it’s groundbreaking. Seriously, did you need a graph from Microsoft to tell you that people enjoy working from home because it eliminates time-wasting commutes? Is this really information that someone at Microsoft is getting paid to report on toward the tail end of 2021?

Mind you, basic-observation-tier data and stale, tired platitudes are only half of Microsoft’s post. The other half is an advertisement for its products from the angle of how they make working in “the new normal™” easier. It’d be nice if Microsoft just opened with that sales pitch instead of hiding the post’s real point under a mountain of drivel.

The whole writeup is eerily reminiscent of the time Microsoft decided data was needed to determine whether employees needed breaks from work. So, in a genuine plea to Microsoft, I say this: Please, please stop utilizing valuable resources for fluff. Commission research on groundbreaking topics that only a company with such vast resources and talent can afford to explore. Tell us what humanity’s consensus is on the meaning of life, or work, or something else of significance, not that grass is green.

Give us a study on how many people want VR get-togethers with colleagues to be the new default way to work from home. Get some interesting HoloLens studies going! Feed us research that shows real, groundbreaking advancements are not only wanted but already in the works. Everyone knows how the pandemic years have affected the traditional foundations of workplaces. Microsoft’s mission should be to tell us something we don’t know, that only it can tell us.

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