Making space for human brilliance

Wooden blocks with a lightbulb.

The future of work is digital-first and hybrid, and it’s already here. The way we’ve worked since the onset of the pandemic has brought employee experience to the forefront — making flexibility, inclusion, collaboration, and streamlined task management top business priorities.

To bring the employee experience initiative to life, we need to shift our culture, rethink the workplace, and adopt an outcomes-based performance approach. When leaders focus on outcomes, aimed to improve the results of the organization, we empower employees to take responsibility for how they achieve their goals and allow space for flexibility, inclusion, and collaboration from anywhere. Additionally, leaders and organizations should consider the whole human. This includes our well-being, professional goals, and the dynamics of our personal lives. All of these aspects of our human experience impact our capacity to contribute to an organization's performance.

To improve the flow of work, we must reduce the toil of repetitive tasks and friction in workflows through automation and artificial intelligence. In doing so we can unlock human brilliance.

For example, we can bring the digital signing process directly into team collaboration tools to automate and simplify approval workflows, making it easier to complete tasks and remove distractions. We can use automation and AI to help teams find and edit content and enhance imagery, saving valuable time while helping to deliver a better customer experience.

Combined, our culture, outcomes-based leadership, and the right tools can help us tackle daily challenges like context shifting, excess meetings, and busy work — the productivity killers that keep us from doing our best work.

To do that, we need to meet people where they are and where they work.

I spoke about the ways to create a more human-centric workplace with AI in my recent interview with Charles Pelton, contributing editor at CIO magazine, at the IDG Future of Work Summit. Here are some of the ideas we discussed on how to create a work culture where human creativity can flourish.

Feed employee focus

In business, we have long rewarded multitasking. There is even a term for the act of constant multitasking — omni tasking. But omni tasking is like trying to hit a winning serve and return someone else’s serve in the same instant. It can’t be done. It’s the same with too much context switching.

In terms of improving the employee experience we need to reduce the huge cognitive load that employees bear. We need to fuel their focus. To get there, we need to simplify tasks and meet employees where they work.

For instance, if an employee wants to create a PDF right from an email, it should be as simple as a single click. If your team wants to share and sign a document while videoconferencing, they should be able to review documents together — securely — and collaborate on the spot. They should not have to move between screens.

Our integrations with Microsoft make it possible to weave multiple steps and tasks into one so employees can get more done with less context switching. In that way, we are doing more than meeting employees where they are, we are cultivating focus. That’s a gift that keeps on giving — not only for our employees but for our customers and our business as a whole

Use automation and AI to tap into human brilliance

The Great Resignation is real. And it makes a great impact on employees who stay on. According to our 2022 study, The Future of Time: Hybrid Workplace, 61 percent of employees feel increased burnout because of team resignations. What’s more, a third of the workweek is currently being spent on unimportant tasks.

Fortunately, some of the factors that cause burnout can be addressed with increased automation. We know that automation can help employees innovate, collaborate, and be productive from anywhere — making hybrid work, well, work. Automation’s greater calling, though, is in freeing people to do higher-level work, and making it possible to tap into human brilliance.

For example, automating the onboarding process and enabling people to digitally sign their hiring documents can turn a time-consuming process into a simple point-and-click task. Especially if it can be done on a smartphone. Integrating those same digital signing tools into word processing, spreadsheet, and other productivity apps can help teams collaborate more effectively wherever they are working.

AI and machine learning also can be used to help us understand how people work in an environment, so we can improve the employee experience. For example, AI can be used to predict burnout based on how much time is being spent in meetings. It can also be used to understand how people are interacting with knowledge and information shared across the organization.

We can also tap into human brilliance — and drive productivity — by incorporating play into the workday. Play allows us to connect as humans. It ignites our creativity — our artistic creativity, yes, but also our generative thought processes and our innovative mindset. Gamifying work is another thing that can spur heightened creativity.

Adobe and Microsoft continue to build on our strong partnership to help organizations get more from the tools it has already invested in. Together, we are reimagining how digital workflows can create new flexibility and unlock better ways to work and collaborate.

Ultimately, creating a culture where employees can do their best work means honing in on the ways work can be done better wherever it happens — whether from home, in the office, or across the globe. Finding those opportunities for seamless collaboration, easier workflows, streamlined processes, and personal connections is the equation for thriving work culture — and a place where the humanity of employees always comes first.

Discover more ways a modern, hybrid workplace can make space for human brilliance.

For a more detailed look at how culture, collaboration, and connected solutions meet in the modern workplace, watch Toni’s full interview with CIO Contributing Editor Charles Pelton below.