According to a meta-study, the fulminant changes last year have created a technological rift that can make or break human-resource continuity.

The future of work is distributed, flexible, and autonomous. That is the message behind a global report on the state of work amid the continuing pandemic.

The report by Adobe includes data from two separate studies: the first study was conducted between February 13 and March 6, 2020, and the second study was conducted eight months later, between November 29 and December 3, 2020. Both studies included 1,000 respondents that were employed by a company with at least 500 employees, worked on a computer, and collaborated with other people.

According to the authors of the report, employers (in general) looking to lead and drive employee engagement in this age of digital transformation can be guided by four themes:

  1. Digital workers are resilient
    Digital workers have gained capacity in two of the most challenging aspects of workamid the effects of the pandemic: collaborating with colleagues over geographies; and dealing with work-related conflict and hard conversations.

    The report noted a rise in reliance on technology to support creativity and innovation, which can be attributed to people trying to recreate the energy and inspiration of in-person brainstorming and collaboration.
  1. Digital workers are even more engaged
    Employee engagement is slightly on the rise. The number of respondents that reported feeling invested in their jobs has grown from 79% to 81%, and the number that said doing their best work was more important than pay had jumped by nearly 10% over the last report by Adobe.

    According to the data, employees have gained a desire to make a difference at work but needed to feel valued. Feeling unappreciated was the top barrier to employees feeling invested in their work, highlighting the importance of employee engagement.
  2. Digital workers have new expectations
    According to data gleaned from the responses, digital employees know what a good customer experience feels like, and they take those expectations to their workplace. Some 49% of respondents said they would quit a job if the technology supporting their work is out of date or hard to use.
    The report concludes that companies failing to invest in the right technological tools for their workers are sending the signal that they are not very concerned with the quality of work or the people doing the work.
  3. Generations are being impacted differently
    Remote workers are responding differently to the changes and challenges that have emerged over the past year. When comparing millennials (those between the ages of 25 and 40) and Gen Xers (aged 41 to 56), the latter group showed major gains in confidence around communication, including conflict resolution and their ability to build and reinforce trust in a new environment. Millennials, meanwhile, appeared to be adapting at a slower pace, particularly with regard to trust.

    These trends suggest employers need to address both the technological needs and the life-situation barriers impacting individuals and teams, especially in millennials who face an uphill climb when it comes to building collective resilience and absorbing the nuances of corporate culture.

The report concludes that organizations today should prioritize technologies that foster employee collaboration to boost productivity, direct business outcomes, and attract and keep the best talent through inclusivity.