The past two years of remote work have been challenging, but they would have been far more difficult without access to the tools that have allowed us to remotely work, communicate and collaborate.
This is one of the clearest takeaways from The Future of Time: Hybrid Workplace, a report by Adobe that examines the challenges and opportunities of this new work era.
As more organisations shift from mostly remote to hybrid work, we wanted to understand how these changes are affecting people's work and the role that technology plays in their world. We surveyed 1,400 employees and managers across large US businesses and small to medium enterprises about their views on hybrid work, technology and the future of productivity to gauge how the evolving workplace is affecting everyone's most valuable resource -- their time.
The findings illuminate some of the biggest challenges facing employees today and offer guidance to organisations that want to ensure that their teams don't get left behind as we venture into the future.
Hybrid work has been a boon for many information workers, allowing them to reap the benefits of remote work -- reducing lengthy commutes and taking back more personal time -- while preserving important in-office functions like company culture and community.
Of course, that shift has also come with its share of challenges, particularly with regard to technology. Hybrid employees and managers who split time between home and office say that they spend around 5-7 hours each week troubleshooting or setting up technology.
Of the biggest challenges involved in making the transition to hybrid work, nearly 70% of employees cited technology -- including setup, file collaboration and troubleshooting issues like spotty in-office and home WiFi and editing shared documents among colleagues.
While tech has been identified as a factor in some of the hurdles that need to be overcome, fortunately it has also played a critical role in addressing many of the significant productivity issues facing organisations today.
Of the employees Adobe surveyed, many believe hybrid work would be impossible without access to modern digital tools, with 3 out of 4 saying that access to digital tools has had a positive impact on their transition to hybrid work.
As one enterprise employee put it: "Hybrid work just wouldn't have been possible without the technology. I had to learn to do things by myself at home that previously the IT staff would have done for me at work, and I couldn't have done my job unless I had the technology to do that."
As more companies roll out new return-to-office policies, there's a clear disconnect between how managers and employees feel about the latest developments. Digging a little deeper, Adobe found that technology explains some of the disconnect between managers and their teams.
When we spoke to employees, we found that a third say they felt held back by managers who were using outdated technology or who struggled to use modern collaboration tools.
Only 1 in 2 say they felt their manager is somewhat tech savvy. Indeed, many of these employees also report being more stretched for time and less productive at work because of technologically ineffectual systems.
But when managers and employees are aligned, digital-first, flexible mindsets can truly empower teams.
Both managers and employees are in favour of flexible work hours, paid time off and sick days and upgrading existing technologies in the office to make hybrid work for everyone. What is clear is that companies need to recognise that these options are not one size fits all. Leaders are encouraged to listen to employees to understand what would empower them most, and what working styles make the most sense for their office.
It is clear that the digital divide continues to fuel The Great Resignation. For example, 72% of employees and 88% of managers surveyed by Adobe say that access to modern digital tools is a key factor when evaluating new jobs. The survey found that 61% of employees feel increased burnout as a result of team resignations, and that feeling was even higher among employees who said they didn't have access to modern technology.
Given that 1 in 3 employees say they are likely to pursue a new job in the next year, companies should consider upgrading their technology to make the hybrid workplace more productive and make everyone's work more impactful, regardless of location. The time to make these changes isn't now -- it's yesterday.
To download 'The Future of Time' report, go to https://www.adobe.com/documentcloud/business/reports/the-future-of-time.html