Adobe research reveals that better tech is key to adapting to the hybrid workplace

Woman on a couch looking at her laptop.

The past two years of remote work have no doubt 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 during this time.

This is one of the clearest takeaways from our latest report, The Future of Time: Hybrid Workplace, which examines the challenges and opportunities of this new work era.

As more organizations shift from mostly remote to hybrid work, we wanted to understand how these changes are impacting people’s work and the role that technology plays in their world. 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 organizations that want to ensure that their teams don’t get left behind as we venture into the future.

Technology matters more than ever

Hybrid work has been a boon for many information workers, allowing 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.

Of course, that shift has also come with its share of challenges, particularly with regards 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 transitioning to hybrid work, nearly 70 percent of employees cited technology — including set up, file collaboration, and troubleshooting issues like spotty in-office and home WiFi 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 organizations today. 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.

As one enterprise employee told us, “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.”

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. Digging a little deeper, we see 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.

Where managers and employees are aligned, is how digital-first, flexible mindsets can truly empower teams.

Both managers and employees are in favor of flexible work hours, PTO and sick days and upgrading existing technologies in the office to make hybrid work for everyone. What is clear is that companies need to recognize 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. For example, 72 percent of employees and 88 percent of managers surveyed say that access to modern digital tools is a key factor when evaluating new jobs. Our survey found that 61 percent 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.

For more information, download The Future of Time: Hybrid Workplace from Adobe Document Cloud.