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New survey explores the changing landscape of teamwork

Today, we’re seeing a new culture of work take shape before our eyes. For many companies, the amount of time employees spend engaged in collaborative work—in meetings, on phone calls, or answering emails—has increased roughly 50 percent and takes up 80 percent or more of their time.We are on twice as many teams as we were five years ago.2 New generations that have grown up with technology are entering the workforce, bringing new expectations and norms. Remote and freelance work are on the rise, and some experts even predict that by 2027 a majority of the U.S. workforce will be freelance.3

One of the central pursuits of any organization, especially in this environment, is how to assemble a high-performing team and set them up for success. It’s more than simply bringing people together to focus on a project—it’s bringing coherence around ideas, goals, actions, and values. Just as every individual is different, so is every team and every project. That’s what makes teamwork and collaboration such an art.

Companies are thinking a lot about what these changes mean for their teams and the technology that empowers them. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, 72 percent of companies are adopting social tools, with the goal of achieving their full potential innovation and efficiency through highly collaborative teams.4

In this new culture of work, Microsoft’s mission is to give teams the tools they need to thrive. So earlier this year, we set out to more deeply understand the forces shaping teamwork today. We wanted to learn how forces like gender and generation shape collaboration preferences and habits, or if things like your remote office location make a larger impact. We surveyed more than 14,000 people from seven countries in various stages of their career—from those who have been in the workforce a while, to those who are preparing to enter it.

Here’s what we found, and what we think it means for all of us navigating teamwork in the new culture of work.


  1. Collaborative Overload, a study published in Harvard Business Review by Rob Cross, Reb Rebele, and Adam Grant.
  2. Microsoft: U.S. Information Worker Survey.
  3. Freelancing in America, a study commissioned by Freelancers Union and Upwork.
  4. The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies, a report by Mackenzie Global Institute.

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