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Engaging technologies key to successful hybrid work environment

By Ryan Morris-Reade
Thu 7 Apr 2022

Adobe's Future of Time Report 2022 shows that engaging technologies are key to a successful hybrid work environment.

The past two years of remote work have been challenging, but they would have been far more difficult without access to the tools that allowed employees to work remotely, communicate, and collaborate.

This is one of the stand-out takeaways from Adobe's latest report, The Future of Time: Hybrid Workplace, which 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 impact people's work and the role that technology plays in their world," says Adobe Document Cloud vice president of Product Marketing, Todd Gerber.

"We surveyed 1,400 employees and managers across large enterprises and small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) about their views on hybrid work, technology, and the future of productivity to gauge how the evolving workplace is impacting everyone's most valuable resource, their time.

"Our 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."

Technology matters more than ever

For many information workers, hybrid work has allowed them to reap the benefits of remote work, reduce lengthy commutes and take back more personal time while preserving important in-office functions like company culture and community.

But hybrid employees and managers who split time between home and office say they spend around 5 to 7 hours each week troubleshooting or setting up technology. Of the most significant challenges transitioning to hybrid work, nearly 70% of employees cited technology, including setting up, file collaboration, and troubleshooting issues like spotty in-office and home Wi-Fi and editing shared documents among hybrid colleagues.

"While tech has highlighted some hybrid hurdles to overcome, fortunately, it has also played a critical role in addressing many of the significant productivity issues facing organisations today," says Gerber.

"Of the employees we 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.

"One enterprise employee told us that hybrid work wouldn't have been possible without the technology. And had to learn to do things by themselves at home that previously the IT staff would have done at work."

Better tech can help bridge the employee-manager engagement gap

As more companies roll out new return-to-office (RTO) policies, there is a clear disconnect between how managers and employees feel about the latest developments. 

"We see that technology explains some disconnect between managers and their teams," says Gerber. "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. 

"Many of these employees also report being more stretched for time and less productive at work because of technologically ineffectual systems," he adds.

The report found that digital-first, flexible mindsets can empower teams when managers and employees are aligned. Both managers and employees favour flexible work hours, PTO and sick days and upgrading existing technologies in the office to make hybrid work for everyone. Gerber says 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 the working styles that make sense for their office.

Tech is key to addressing employee turnover

"It is clear that the digital divide continues to fuel The Great Resignation," says Gerber. "For example, 72% of employees and 88% of managers surveyed say that access to modern digital tools is a key factor when evaluating new jobs. Our survey found that 61% of employees feel high burnout due to team resignations. 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."

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