Today, Microsoft Australia’s managing director, Pip Marlow, challenged me to not come into office. I wasn’t alone. She challenged our entire Australian workforce to stay away.

Traditionally, when you get asked to stay away from work, it’s probably not a great thing. However, in this scenario, we’ll still be working - just not in the office.

We’re calling today ‘Spring Day Out’ – a day to ‘get it done’ outside of the traditional office environment. By making a deliberate choice to work away from the office, many Microsoft employees are both celebrating and making a statement about the changing nature of work.

Many Australians would love the opportunity to work flexibly. In a recent survey* commissioned by Microsoft, over 80 per cent of Australian respondents said they would prefer to work outside the office. Yet, 70 per cent felt their organisation did not have the technology, tools and culture to embrace a flexible working model. Of the respondents who did have option to work flexibly, half felt pressured to go into the office anyway. It’s one thing to have a policy in place, it’s another to have the right culture.

Microsoft believes that work is a thing you do, not a place you go.  My office is wherever I am, my work hours are when I choose them. My manager just trusts me to get my job done.

That’s an important philosophy for me because I lead the Office division: a group dedicated to creating a set of productivity tools and services that enable our customers, big and small, to get the job done, anywhere. As we mark Spring Day Out, Microsoft has just announced a number of important updates to Office 365 as we strive hard to achieve that mission. In fact, since the service began rolling out earlier this year, we’ve delivered over 100 new Office 365 features.

I totally appreciate that every workplace is different, and what’s right for Microsoft’s workforce isn’t necessarily going to be right for everyone else.

But what we do believe in is challenging the status quo and through our focus on innovation, pioneering new ways of doing things for the benefit of our customers. For us, the 9-5, ‘chained at your desk’, bricks and mortar model no longer meets the needs of our business. A flexible, open, inclusive, empowered and trusted model does. As Pip wrote in yesterday’s edition of The Sydney Morning Herald, people need to be accountable for outcomes, not for time served; 9 to 5 is a song, not a lifestyle.

I feel extremely fortunate to work in a culture where every day can be a ‘Spring Day Out’. While today is a celebration of our culture, I hope that it helps provoke a broader conversation about what the future work looks like in Australia. We’re an amazing country with a great track record of economic success. In large part, it’s the millions of workplaces across the country that we have to thank for that. So for me, the question is: has the work model that got us to where we are today going to get is to where we need to tomorrow?

 

About the survey
Research Now surveyed a total of 1,011 18-65yr old full-time and part-time employees including all States & Territories in Australia. The research was completed and all data collected between 28th October 2013 and 04th November 2013. The research was conducted in in accordance with industry standards and delivered by an ISO 20252 accredited research provider.