The future of work for Microsoft Azure teams

By Lina Arshad

Future-proofing your workforce and your organization is a critical way of optimizing future performance and mitigating risk, but you’ll need to know what the future holds if you are to successfully modify your teams. By understanding how the Azure ecosystem is evolving and what professionals expect from their employers, you can begin to adapt to a changing workplace culture.

In doing so, you’ll find it easier to attract and retain top Azure talent and reap the benefits that come from developing a diverse and effective team. Here, we take a look at how the Azure workforce is changing and what you can do to modernize and optimize your working environment:

Increased focus on cloud computing

The rise of cloud computing means that many organizations are transitioning to Microsoft Azure in a bid to future-proof their operations. It’s expected that 80% of enterprise workloads will have moved to the cloud by 2025, which highlights just how ubiquitous this flexible IT infrastructure is. As more companies successfully transition to the cloud, however, new opportunities will arise.

Currently, Microsoft Azure consists of more than 200 products and services, and organizations will expand their use of these features as cloud computing becomes more embedded in their culture. As a result, we’ll see Azure professionals working on an increasingly wide range of projects, from Applied AI and Machine Learning to mixed reality and IoT.

According to the Nigel Frank Careers and Hiring Guide: Microsoft 365 and Azure Edition, the opportunity to undertake new challenges is a key consideration for 32% of employees when offered a new role. With almost a third of Azure professionals eager to undertake innovative, new projects and 41% seeking promotional prospects, it’s likely that companies who leverage Azure and make use of the latest functionalities will find it easiest to attract and retain top talent.

Remote, flexible, and hybrid working

Perhaps the most significant change to the Azure ecosystem, and the tech industry as a whole, is the transition towards non-traditional working patterns. While tech professionals have always enjoyed a relatively flexible working environment, this has become increasingly important in recent years.

Prior to the pandemic, just 15% of our respondents had the opportunity to work remotely full-time, but this rose to 74% during the pandemic. As lockdowns and work-from-home orders drastically changed the way we worked, a desire for more flexibility and a better work-life balance has become engrained throughout the sector.

According to Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index, more than 73% of professionals want flexible work policies to be continued, while our Careers and Hiring Guide shows that 50% of Microsoft professionals want hybrid working arrangements, and 33% are eager to work remotely full-time.

For today’s businesses, adapting operations to facilitate flexible working arrangements will be key to successful staff acquisition and retention, particularly throughout the tech industry. As remote and hybrid working becomes more commonplace, this flexibility is less likely to be seen as a perk and more likely to be viewed as a standard element of a modern working environment.

While the ability to offer full-time, remote positions will depend on your company’s operations and the position’s exact responsibilities, a meaningful commitment to flexibility and hybrid working will be essential if you want to attract and retain Azure professionals.

Maintaining a work culture with a remote team

Keeping your staff motivated and engaged leads to higher productivity, more innovation, enhanced employee satisfaction, and increased staff commitment (LinkedIn, 2021). In fact, the company-wide impact of employee engagement shows a clear correlation between staff satisfaction and commercial performance.

While businesses have spent decades optimizing office-based working environments, companies are now having to re-think the way they cultivate a strong work culture. However, there are many ways that businesses can maintain and strengthen their work culture while implementing flexible, remote, and hybrid working arrangements, such as:

1. Redesign physical spaces

Offices are traditionally designed to maximize functionality for full-time workers, but few employees will continue to work in this way in the future. Many companies are finding that their physical locations are no longer sufficient for a modern workforce, which is why redesigning physical spaces can ease your transition to hybrid and flexible working patterns.

A combination of collaborative spaces, configurable furniture, and private pods for seamless video conferencing and remote connection can transform an office into a productive hybrid working environment, for example.

2. Convey your company’s vision

People are more motivated when they’re working towards an overarching objective, which is why your company’s vision is such an important element of the workplace culture. When employees feel part of something larger than their own team or department, they will feel more valued and, therefore, be increasingly motivated to perform well.

A company’s vision and culture can be more easily absorbed in an office environment, so you’ll need to implement effective strategies to ensure this isn’t diluted when employees are working remotely. Initiatives that support and represent your organization’s goals can be a great way to reinforce its vision while encouraging employee interaction too.

3. Implement a mentorship program

Having a professional mentor can build confidence and upskill your existing workforce, but it’s also a valuable way of embedding the company’s culture throughout the workforce. When long-standing employees mentor newer employees, for example, they’ll have the opportunity to share your workplace culture and ensure that developing and established teams share the same overriding objectives.

Motivating and managing remote teams

As hybrid working becomes more common throughout the Azure ecosystem and the tech industry, companies will need to adapt their management styles to accommodate this shift. Remote work has many advantages, but it does present new challenges, too. Motivating and empowering employees requires a different approach when staff are working from disparate locations, for example. However, there are many ways that organizations can strengthen team bonds and optimize performance when staff are working remotely, such as:

1. Onboarding in groups

If you’re building a new team or hiring multiple Azure professionals, onboard your new members of staff in groups, rather than one-on-one. Starting a new role can be nerve-wracking, particularly if you’re working remotely. When you join a firm with other new starters, however, it can alleviate any anxiety and enable new team members to forge bonds quickly. Assigning mentors or leaders to each group will also help to integrate new team members into the existing workforce and ensure that they’re welcomed and supported appropriately.

2. Encourage social interaction

Social interactions help to strengthen bonds between team members, and, in an office environment, they usually happen organically. When staff are working from home or across different locations, however, social communication is less likely to occur in this way. As a result, companies must take steps to maximize social engagement and encourage employees to interact outside of work-related issues.

Online tools, such as instant messaging platforms and project management software, are valuable for managing remote teams but can also be used to facilitate virtual social communication between team members. As well as having instant message groups designed for work projects, for example, launch groups that are dedicated to non-work topics and watercooler conversations.

3. Schedule regular face time

Depending on the nature of a role and the method of collaboration employees use, remote working can become somewhat isolating, which can lead to reduced employee engagement and dissatisfaction. Scheduling regular face time can prevent this from happening and will ensure that every member of your team remains motivated and committed.

For remote teams, introduce dedicated virtual meeting times that give staff an opportunity to connect in a meaningful way. From daily stand-ups to weekly department meetings, create a schedule that works for your team to maximize participation.

As well as facilitating virtual face time, be sure to encourage regular, real-life, face-to-face engagement too. Hybrid work patterns are a great way to do this, as employees benefit from increased flexibility while still spending some of their time in an office setting, but regular social events and on-site meetings will also give you the chance to increase employee engagement and cultivate a team mentality.

As the workplace changes, companies will need to evolve in order to respond to the needs of their employees.

With an in-depth understanding of the ecosystem, Nigel Frank can provide the Azure-specific recruitment services you need to build and maintain a successful team.

To learn more, get in touch with us today or browse our roster of Azure talent now.

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