The Future of Work: Four Things You Don’t Want to Overlook

BrandPost By Aaron Goldberg
Mar 16, 2021
IT Leadership

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Credit: Adobe Stock

Speaking at the recent Future of Work Summit, Ashley Still, senior vice president and general manager of digital media at Adobe, offered some fresh thinking about the Future of Work (FOW). Still made four observations in particular that either run counter to conventional wisdom or are overlooked by most firms. Either way, they are essential elements of a successful and effective FOW strategy:

  • Burnout may be the real problem: With the wholesale shift last year to remote work for knowledge workers, management was concerned that productivity would fall off and the business would not be able to operate effectively. But productivity levels did not drop, and in many instances they went up. What did happen, though, was that employees often found there was no delineation between work and home, and because they could work anytime, they worked more hours per week. The result was remote-work burnout, a very real phenomenon, but one that is usually overlooked as organizations plan for what’s next. To combat this, Adobe implemented regular days off, about one day every three weeks, to allow employees to unplug and recharge. Employee engagement numbers actually increased during the pandemic, a testament to the company’s strong culture and values.
  • A focus on fewer projects can improve collaboration: As organizations move to virtual interactions, new complications arise. Integrating new team members and building a cohesive team culture is difficult using virtual meeting tools. Employees can end up feeling distant and unconnected from peers. Firms should try to build more consistent teams that focus on a narrower set of projects. Creating greater personal affinity and increasing the depth of relationships among team members substantially improves collaboration and team effort. Project prioritization has been a priority in itself at Adobe during the pandemic!
  • Going fully digital means paper is no longer in the mix: Our relationship with paper is fraught with environmental concerns, outmoded processes, and inefficiencies. Up until the pandemic, offices remained awash in paper. Now, with the virtual office being the norm, any process that requires paper reduces productivity. One of the most effective ways to eliminate paper is to use digital signing technology, such as Adobe Sign, to provide a digital process for signatures. This solution can be used for numerous processes such as contracts, client onboarding, and HR/employee-centric tasks. When digital processes help eliminate the need for paper, business can proceed more smoothly. It’s a clear trend, supported by the data seen from app usage. Adobe’s e-signature solution witnessed triple-digit year-over-year growth in users each month from June through September 2020, and Adobe research shows more than a quarter of Americans electronically signed a document for the first-time last year.
  • A digital-first perspective is a must: As organizations move forward, the future of work will demand digitally native systems. This entails a change of thinking, from paper-plus-digital to digital only. This change is necessary for both customer-facing systems and internal ones. Although there may be a desire to accommodate “organic elements,” business operations are going digital, and any backpedaling will only create more difficult problems down the road.

Work in the future will be different, but to get from here to there will require building-in the right planning assumptions to modernize the office. The digital genie is not going back in the bottle. Learn more from Adobe.