By Zeina Fakhry, HR Director, Microsoft UAE & Saudi Arabia

Nowadays, almost all regional business leaders talk about the hybrid workplace at some point in their day. Employees want it, managers recommend it, and enterprises must deliver it. But hybrid work comes with its own challenges. For one, the more intimately we connect electronically, the more we lose the people-to-people connections that make us who we are, and that lead to innovation.

The intelligent cloud is home to many of the enabling platforms and tools that allow the delivery of hybrid-work environments, and certainly modern workplaces cannot afford to omit them from the technology mix. But while we build the workplace of the future, we should not forget the divide between those who can opt in to the WFH culture, and those cannot. I speak of frontline workers.

Frontline workers are an estimated 80% of the global workforce. Some 2 billion of them serve a variety of critical societal needs, and around 88% of organizations employ them. If we are to capitalise on the acceptance of remote work as an operating model, we must come together to find ways of introducing positive change for these unsung heroes.

Microsoft’s Work Trend Index 2022 report helped to uncover some of the gaps we need to plug. We discovered that 76% of frontline workers feel a greater affinity with one another because of their shared ordeal during the pandemic, but 58% do not expect their stress levels at work to reduce in the coming year. And more than half (51%) of non-management frontline employees feel undervalued.

As we enter an era in which labour markets will likely become more globalized, it is not only knowledge workers that are getting itchy feet. In our survey, frontline workers cite better remuneration, work-life balance, and flexibility as reasons they are looking for alternative employment.

The cloud can help. Some 63% of frontline workers expressed optimism about the job opportunities technology creates, and technology is third on workers’ list of factors that have the potential to reduce stress. Upskilling is a great way to motivate these employees and enhance the hybrid work environment.

Microsoft has been working hard in the region to support frontline workers with better employee experiences because we believe this is key in delivering equitable hybrid workplaces. In 2021, we were named a leader in field service management by IDC MarketScape for our work in this area. Dynamics 365 Field Service – which we offer through our state-of-the-art cloud locations in our Abu Dhabi and Dubai data centres – along with Microsoft Teams, which has been integrated into Dynamics 365 Customer Service Hub, can really help to connect field teams to customers and their office colleagues. And organisations such as Etisalat, Al Ghurair Group’s AG Melco, Dubai Municipality, and the UAE Ministry of Education have used Field Services to greatly enhance the experiences of their frontline workers.

This is the power of the trusted, versatile, intelligent Microsoft Cloud. Organisations that are trying to build diverse, inclusive, hybrid workspaces that leave nobody behind need look no further.