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We get it, Microsoft: Remote work is 'the new normal.' Please tell us something new.

The Visitor’s Center at Microsoft Headquarters campus is pictured July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington.
The Visitor’s Center at Microsoft Headquarters campus is pictured July 17, 2014 in Redmond, Washington. (Image credit: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images for Microsoft)

When you work for a site with a focus on any particular company, you're bound to end up writing about some relatively small scoops that only appeal to a narrow niche of readers. However, Microsoft and LinkedIn have taken advantage of that fact to release one of the most empty, yammering stories I can recall reading and reporting on, with the Windows 11 maker knowing full well that a relatively quiet end of the week will compel coverage of an absolutely unexceptional Redmond-penned essay (opens in new tab) on "the new normal" of work.

At best, Microsoft's piece is a hollow re-expression of concepts everyone at this point in the year of our Lord, 2021, is already familiar with. The pandemic has caused "fundamental changes in the global labor market." Hybrid work is "the new normal." And that, despite these hurdles, "we don't have to be physically together to feel like we're in it together." We get it, Microsoft. We all row the boat. Wink-wink.

And calling the writeup a hollow retread of well-worn ground is the glass half full perspective. At worst, Microsoft's post is just a flagrantly self-congratulatory exercise that the company wants us all to watch. "At Microsoft and LinkedIn, we want to take a learn-it-all approach, and lead with data rather than dogma." "In a year when we sent 160,000 people home to work and remotely onboarded 25,000 new employees, the share of people who report feeling included at Microsoft is at an all-time high of 90%." Enough, Microsoft!

It's reading material that's hard to swallow, and what's worse is seeing those who are reporting on it doing so as though it's groundbreaking. Seriously, did you need a graph from Microsoft to tell you that people enjoy working from home because it eliminates time-wasting commutes? Is this really information that someone at Microsoft is getting paid to report on toward the tail end of 2021?

Microsoft logo

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Mind you, basic-observation-tier data and stale, tired platitudes are only half of Microsoft's post. The other half is an advertisement for its products from the angle of how they make working in "the new normal™" easier. It'd be nice if Microsoft just opened with that sales pitch instead of hiding the post's real point under a mountain of drivel.

The whole writeup is eerily reminiscent of the time Microsoft decided data was needed to determine whether employees needed breaks from work. So, in a genuine plea to Microsoft, I say this: Please, please stop utilizing valuable resources for fluff. Commission research on groundbreaking topics that only a company with such vast resources and talent can afford to explore. Tell us what humanity's consensus is on the meaning of life, or work, or something else of significance, not that grass is green.

Give us a study on how many people want VR get-togethers with colleagues to be the new default way to work from home. Get some interesting HoloLens studies going! Feed us research that shows real, groundbreaking advancements are not only wanted but already in the works. Everyone knows how the pandemic years have affected the traditional foundations of workplaces. Microsoft's mission should be to tell us something we don't know, that only it can tell us.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

18 Comments
  • We get it Robert. News about remote work is not news to you. As a journalist, you provide a very personal take on the Microsoft/Linkedin paper. Maybe you're just peeved because covering the story was assigned to you? Instead of ranting about the report, maybe you should have acutally analyzed the report findings and presented the information to those who aren't as enlightened as yourself. Perhaps another 530 words misspent.
  • I don't get the tone of this article either. It's not like Microsoft should rally troops against itself, of course it should advertise how great they did, right? Also, it's not a publication/academic paper as far as I can tell, it's a generic blog post on the Microsoft website. I think Robert meant well, but this article might warrant a follow-up with a more objective view?
  • Lol I can automatically tell by any sassy headline/article who the author is!
  • In all fairness, this particular headline was more of a collaborative effort. But I appreciate the sentiment!
  • No value added with this article
  • So, what you're saying is that you wrote an entire article about Microsoft posting one that said nothing we don't already know. So effectively, you wrote an story about nothing. Seems like an even greater exercise in futility than Microsoft's LinkedIn post, really.
  • That's about the long and short of it, yeah.
  • You know, not everyone has the luxury of a separate office space at home lol. Spending all day in a room gets pretty old, very quickly. Imagine waking up, walking two steps to work and only get one hour break for lunch. Clocking out at 7 pm and then doing studying / working on your portfolio till 10 pm. Sure, you get the occasional lavatory breaks, snack breaks, lunch, dinner etc. Imagine doing that for several months. For some that's the “new normal”. It's not an enjoyable experience at all. Having done that for almost a year I don't relish the idea of going through that again. At one point i was working until 4 am for awhile. As my portfolio work was based on work related tasks. So thinking about work effectively 24/7.... that was mentally mind numbingly exhausting. With all this remote working, everyone has overlooked the importance of a “mental space”. We all associate things subconsciously - home is where we go to relax. Office is where we are hyper focused. The commute offers clear boundaries between these two spaces. The morning routine effectively removes the fog and cobwebs out of your system. Now, working and relax in the same room or space? It doesn't work, you become clausterphobic and stir crazy. Working from home in your bedroom compounds the issues even more as you can't switch off. You're constantly thinking about work. Bedrooms for all of us is our “safe space” it's where we completely relax and let our guard down. Closing a bedroom door or walking through the doorway just subconsciously triggers that behavior. So with hardly any restful, there's hardly anytime for breakfast. As you'd end sleeping in to the last minute as possible. As by then you really don't want to get out of bed. Which is why if you have a separate space for an office. You will enjoy working from home alot more. However due to GDPR and Data Protection regs + laws it cannot be a shared space. Then there's the social aspect, we humans are very social creatures. Some folks thrive with in person engagement such as comedians and performers. So yeah, not everyone would have enjoyed working from home.
  • Totally aware that many (if not most) people don't have separate home offices and there are tons of drawbacks to WFH life. I agree with virtually everything you've said there. But none of this is groundbreaking stuff. We know there are huge benefits and drawbacks to WFH; bizarre that Microsoft is wasting energy drudging up the same tired old talking points years after the fact.
  • I disagree with everything you said. I love working from home as so do my colleagues. You're trying to speak for everyone yet the point of your post is the article doesn't speak for everyone. "We humans are very social creatures"...no. Many people are introverts and working from home is a dream come true. Not every one shares your view and don't claim you know how others think.
  • Amen to that! ^^
  • Well said, as much as I wanted to work from home it is driving me crazy not being able to go anywhere. I live in the lockdown capital city in the world, Melbourne Australia.
  • I am so happy to not be stuck in a car for two hours every day spewing out toxic fumes so I can sit in an office sucking up tons of energy with people pestering me all day long I could cry. I hope the new normal is to never have to sit in traffic again. I will gladly give that waste of time to my Employer that is actually very productive now. Turn all office space into homeless shelters and let me work from home forever.
  • I save 2.5 hours a day not having to travel into the office each day. I go into the office once a week rather than every day. I talk to people every day on the phone and via conference calls. I hi to the office when I need to instead of because I have to.
  • What's the point of that article anyway?! Windows Central sometimes becomes too weird for me and just bashing Microsoft unlike other websites that focuses on competitive companies!
  • It can get pretty weird, yeah. I guess you could call it... "the new normal."
  • Bro, your article was ****. You aren't being funny.
  • TrigDxddy, I will take your note into consideration (maybe).