The Great Place to Work® Institute today announced that Microsoft is the inaugural winner of the Best Multinational Workplaces 2011 in Europe award.

This year, 1,380 companies participated in the study, representing more than 1.5 million employees, making it the largest study of its kind. More than 12,000 Microsoft employees participated in the survey across Europe.

“Winning the top spot on our new European Best Multinational Workplaces list, on the back of several national awards, reflects Microsoft’s continued success in creating a working environment where people can thrive,” said José Tolovi Jr., Global CEO for the Great Place to Work Institute. “The new list recognizes companies that create great workplaces across country borders, as well as cultural and language differences. Operating successfully in multiple countries is a complex job and Microsoft has shown how to create a great workplace in multiple countries through a combination of leadership and smart use of technology.”

In Europe, Microsoft was listed in the top five best places to work in Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. In six of these countries Microsoft was named #1 Best Place to Work.

Flexible working is the norm in many Microsoft subsidiaries across Europe. Employees are empowered to use our own technology – from Lync to Windows Phone to SharePoint and Office – to communicate and collaborate, creating a culture of trust and transparency where people may work in a way that better suits work-life balance. Check out this video from Microsoft Finland.

Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Finland are the first countries to take flexible working a step further by building on the vision outlined by Bill Gates in (New World of Work whitepaper in 2005) using Microsoft technology to transform the workplace to help make their lives easier and achieve superior performance.

Nana Bule, an employee at Microsoft Denmark said, “I don’t work from home for the whole day very often. When my children are ill, however, it is a great advantage for me to be able to work from home when they are sleeping. Typically, I work from home in the morning before meeting with customers. Some days I go by the office and go home at three to pick up my children. On those days I log on from home in the evening and finish my work or prepare for the next day. This gives me freedom.”

“I like to say that my PC is my office – it is all here, I have my document archive, my mailbox, my phone, my meeting room…From my PC can I carry out my job in all ways – I can communicate, produce and attend meetings.”

As another proof point, Rotterdam School of Management partnered with Microsoft Netherlands to assess progress in this area and measured a 40 percent improvement in work/life balance scores there over the past 5 years.

“Many of our subsidiaries have taken the concept to its fullest extent, remodeling their offices to better combine people, workplace and technology. Technology makes it possible for people to be “present” (virtually) in several ways when not in the office or on the road. It creates better opportunities for collaboration in a 24x7 manner – meaning teams here are better connected within Europe and with our corporate offices in the US, “ according to senior HR director of Western Europe Frank Abbenhuijs.

In addition to technology advantages, Microsoft employees consistently cite the passion of Microsoft’s people, its mission and impact the company makes in Europe as a reason the company scores so highly.

In Portugal for example, Microsoft was recognized distinction for corporate and social responsibility for its role and commitment to Elevate Portugal, directing a 3 million Euro investment through 2013 toward stimulating employment through training programs, startup and small business programs, assisting non-governmental organizations, education programs and local innovation investment.

Employees also like taking advantage of volunteering in their local communities without taking vacation time to do it. In Belgium, 61 Microsoft employees volunteered to train more than 3,000 kids in online safety. And nearly 40 Microsoft employees will volunteer as part of the Microsoft sponsorship of the Special Olympics in Greece later this year.

"Being named Best Place to Work in Europe for the fourth year in a row is a great honor for us, especially because it's an employee feedback-driven award," said Jean-Philippe Courtois, president, Microsoft International. "We believe the combination of our mission, our people and constantly finding new ways to use technology to help employees communicate and collaborate across cities, borders and around the world, are vital ingredients for attracting, retaining and motivating Europe's best talent."

Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog