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Our interview with Microsoft Australia on keeping collaboration and innovation alive in a hybrid working model.
Embedding collaboration into individual goals is a feature of performance measurement at Microsoft, the Great Place to Work-Certified™global tech giant.
Historically, measuring performance relied on assessing individual outcomes, says Ingrid Jenkins, Microsoft’s human resources director, ANZ.
“But it’s not hard to say ‘when this person delivered that, how did they leverage others? And how did they build on what others have already done?’” she says.
“By collaborating and learning from others, what you produce will be even more impactful.”
This powerful idea is so central to Microsoft that performance conversations come in three equally weighted parts: what you achieved, how you leveraged off others and how you helped others.
“It was a very intentional culture shift to say we have start working as one Microsoft.
“And it’s a great differentiator, because you may at times have people whose outcomes have been great, but when you actually look at how they contributed more broadly, or learned from the ecosystem, it may not be as powerful,” she says.
“What do you recognise and reward? If you are looking to inspire greater collaboration, align your aspirations with how you recognise and reward.
“It’s one of the biggest signals that will guide people.”
But with collaboration built into everyone’s job descriptions, finding ways to engage your network in a remote working environment is critical.
And while it’s tempting to think a technology company like Microsoft finds remote working easy Jenkins points out that it is not always optimal.
“We do believe that coming together physically at a worksite has value. Individuals say they want flexibility, but they also miss face to face connection with their teams.
I don’t think we should assume that everyone wants to work 100% remotely.
“And not everyone is in a position to have choice around working hybrid or not.”
Jenkins points out that remote working is having different effects in different parts of people’s work relationships.
It is deepening connections within direct networks — but it is weakening connections among extended networks.
“If I’m in a physical environment, you and I may not have much to do with each other day to day, but we’re in the same office space, bumping into each other in the kitchen … sometimes those connections build into something bigger,” she says.
“In a fully remote environment, I’m not going to reach out just to have a chat — I need to establish a clear purpose as to why I’m connecting with you.”
Solving for this gap is critical if collaboration is something to be measured, and Microsoft has leant into employee resource groups — voluntary, employee-led interest groups — to encourage these extended network connections.
Jenkins says ERGs, which grew out of a focus on diversity and inclusion, have become an effective way of bringing communities together.
“You have a family ERG, you’ve got an Asian ERG, you’ve a gender/women ERG, a disability and accessibility ERG — it’s a different community from my everyday community that are coming together.
“I might be talking about different things, but it allows a different type of conversation that can evolve.”
Jenkins says Microsoft has also been intentional about bringing people leaders together on a monthly basis: “Different part of the business, but their commonality is that they all lead teams.”
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The Best Workplaces in Asia List
Great Place to Work® identifies the top organizations that create great workplaces in the Asian and Middle Eastern regions with the publication of the annual Best Workplaces in Asia list. The list recognizes companies in three size categories:
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Multinationals also receive additional credit for their efforts to successfully create an excellent workplace culture in multiple countries in the region. The data used in the calculation of the regional list comes from national lists published in 2019 and early 2020.