workplace health and safety

High productivity during pandemic masks exhausted workforce – Microsoft study

Jan Cuyco

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High productivity during pandemic masks exhausted workforce – Microsoft study

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Microsoft's 2021 Work Trend Index finds that majority of Gen Z workers have considered leaving their employers

With offices embracing flexible work arrangements due to the coronavirus pandemic, productivity has increased.

However, stellar figures are also hiding the fact that employees are burned out.

Results from Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index showed that 78% of the Filipino workforce are craving for face-to-face interaction with their teams. 

At the same time, employees, particularly 59% of Gen Z workers, have considered leaving their employers. (READ: Millennials are not the only ‘burnout generation’ [just ask the rest of us])

The study found that flexible work arrangements will continue on even after the pandemic, and employers should strike a balance.

“The world is on the brink of a disruption as great as last year’s sudden shift to remote work: the move to hybrid – a blended model where some employees return to the workplace and others continue to work from home,” said Andres Ortola, country general manager of Microsoft Philippines. 

Flexible work is also likely to stay as 84% of Filipino workers surveyed want it to continue. But Microsoft said businesses’ pre-pandemic ways aren’t going to cut it.

“Adapting to this new hybrid model will require rethinking of long-held assumptions. The choices you make today will impact your organizations for years to come,” Ortola added. 


The Work Trend Index showed that more employees feel exhausted from maintaining their productivity levels in the past year.

Globally, employees spend over twice as much time in virtual meetings, according to productivity signals from Microsoft 365. 

In the Philippines, 63% of workers felt overworked, citing more digital work and pandemic-induced stress.

The sentiment is stronger among Gen Z workers, as over two-thirds of them said they are “merely surviving or flat-out struggling.”

“As the world opens up, more employees than usual are evaluating their next move,” the report said.

It added that 52% of Filipino respondents plan to move to a new location in 2021 as remote job openings have increased.

What business leaders can do

The Work Trend Index suggested strategies for business leaders, including investing in space and technology as well as combating digital exhaustion. 

“Every organization will need a plan that puts people at the center and encompasses policy, physical space, and technology,” the report said.

Companies also need to take more responsibility for employees’ home offices, which is crucial to “make them feel included.”

To fight exhaustion, Microsoft urged businesses to “embrace a culture where breaks are encouraged and respected.”

“As opportunity is democratized with remote work and talent movement…this is the time for business leaders to take the opportunity to access different skills and talent not previously available to them,” LinkedIn’s chief economist Karin Kimbrough said.

The 2021 Work Trend Index survey was conducted among 31,092 workers in 31 countries between January 12 and January 25. It also analyzed combined productivity and labor signals in Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn. –

Jan Cuyco is a Rappler intern. She is a journalism student from the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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