Microsoft 2021 Work Trend Index

Flexibility And Hybrid Work Will Define the Post-COVID Workplace According to Microsoft’s Research

The following article is sourced from Bridge5 Asia. Author: Bridge 5 Asia, Xiyan

Recently, Microsoft released the 2021 Work Trend Index “The Future of Work is Hybrid”. The report pointed out that hybrid work has become the new norm in the post-pandemic workplace. In addition to this, the new norm will trigger a series of domino effects in the industry.

Source: Microsoft – The Future of Work is Hybrid

Remote work helps in reducing costs and increasing efficiency, while widening the talent marketplace

  1. Reduced commuting time to and from work, increased number of meetings, longer working hours and generally more productive employees
  2. Prevalence of video conferences reduces travel costs, which in turn reduces businesses’ expenses
  3. Remote work expands the talent pool, giving businesses more opportunities to access talents
Source: Microsoft – The Future of Work is Hybrid

Side-effects of remote work that cannot be overlooked:

  1. Frequent miscommunication due to online communication and high level of uncertainties cause additional mental stress for employees
  2. Siloed work affects team communication and reduces collaboration, endangering innovation
  3. Low morale for middle and lower-level staff due to lack of interactions and guidance
Source: Microsoft – The Future of Work is Hybrid


With the advantages and disadvantages of both remote and on-site working, an irreversible hybrid office model is emerging globally. The new work model will trigger a series of domino effects while driving the development of flexible workspace models and technological office innovation in tandem. It also poses new challenges for investment and asset management. The big data work, in particular, is driven by the hybrid work model. It is building on the views of the aforementioned report. This article will focus on big data work models in several key industries in the 5G era.

Big Data at Work in the 5G Era – Scenario 1: Retail Industry

Online retail is the largest platform for big data applications. The pandemic has further accelerated the move to online platforms for offline retailers. It has also reshaped the new retail era of online + offline collaboration. Focusing on this industry, we can see that many well-known retail brands such as Uniqlo and Watsons are actively using technology to retail products online. These brands then analyse the new products and markets through high-speed data feedback. At the same time, offline experiential and scenario marketing increases influence and promotes interest. It is coupled with online social media exposure which boosts online and offline spending in tandem.

Concomitantly, more retailers are combining big data tools. For instance, demographic portraits, and market saturation, to produce sales forecasts and sensitivity analyses of various variables for stores. Big data tools enable brands to precisely adjust store strategies. Added to that select favourable locations and roll out accurate distribution and marketing strategies. It is not difficult to observe that big data is now pivoting to drive offline development of the retail industry, moving on from driving online developments.


Big Data at Work in the 5G Era – Scenario 2: Finance Industry

Before the pandemic, a new production model for big data-driven financial business had quietly kicked in. The global finance industry lay-off in 2019 saw a new trend of AI-driven business with cost reduction and efficiency gains. Finance companies have high staffing costs and are extremely sensitive to human error and moral hazard. With the widespread use of big data and AI in the industry, more finance and real estate industry players are opting to engage machines. This is to complete the work that previously required a lot of manpower and time using intelligent means. One example of this is one-click research and testing through big data. Through this, it allows achieving a comprehensive grasp of operational and financial conditions through digital means.

AI finance has replaced most low- and mid-range manual financial operations. It aids in improving accuracy and preventing ethical issues via the elimination of human contact. The professionals who have mastered the means of technology will lend the power of technology to maximise their strengths through AI finance. Replacing manual operations through big data and AI is a global trend. Big data offices are eliminating traditional finance professionals.


Big Data at Work in the 5G Era – Scenario 3: Real Estate Industry

The golden era of real estate is gone. In this silver era, the industry is moving from incremental to stock strategies as the traditional capital and resource-intensive real estate model changes. In the new ecosystem that encompasses development, asset operation and services, the real estate industry is facing multiple challenges such as cost reduction and efficiency enhancement, as well as innovation and change. Businesses realised that a combination of scale + efficiency + refined management is the only way to win a head-start in future competition. Real estate players have employed an advanced strategy of increasing investments in digitalisation while evolving technology accelerates digital transformation for enterprises.

Big data office is providing a new point for breakthrough for many real estate companies in the current industry predicament. For example, China Overseas Property Holdings Limited is using AMSS big data system for efficient project screening. The data analysis covers every corner of the city, greatly increasing the efficiency of pre-project policy analysis and gaining a competitive edge with the screening volume and speed. While the more senior real estate players are still aimlessly sourcing for projects, the rising real estate gamechangers have already entered the era of the big data office.


“A speck of dust of the times, when fallen on individuals, is a mountain.” The sudden pandemic in 2020 caught many companies off-guard, and some even ended up in crisis. Other than greatly impacting us, the pandemic has also driven new business models and revolutions in industries. Highly agile and technology-aided hybrid work model has not only affected the finance, retail and real estate sectors, but to varying degrees, has also affected the hospitality, transport and logistics and new energy sectors. There is no escaping the fact that the new post-pandemic work model, especially the big data office, has become the new trend. The hybrid work model is inadvertently becoming the new global work model, affecting all industries and at the same time, changing your future and mine.

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