Halfway through year two of remote work at scale, employees and companies are still struggling to adapt to this new normal of business. On Thursday, Adobe released a report titled “The Future of Time,” highlighting extended work hours, challenges with work-life balance, employee burnout and more. As companies look to iron out the workflow wrinkles in the age of remote work, employee burnout and extended hours could be reaching a tipping point.
“Enterprise workers who work longer hours than they would like blame their company and its administrative processes and tasks, likely because a third of their workweek is spent on unimportant tasks,” said Todd Gerber, vice president of product marketing for Adobe Document Cloud. “Many are struggling to be efficient during their designated work hours, meaning their work inevitably bleeds into [personal] time.”
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The future of time: Work-life balance
A portion of the report focuses on work hours logged since the onset of COVID-19. A similar number of enterprise workers (49%) and SMB leaders (56%) said they are working longer hours than they “would like,” according to the report, with these groups logging 44.9 and 45.1 workweeks, respectively.
Remote workers are using a vast suite of tools and hardware to enable virtual collaboration from anywhere at any time. The instantaneous communication enabled by these tools may have drawbacks to bear in mind. According to highlights from the report, about half of enterprise workers (48%) said they felt “pressure to be reachable at all times of the day, even early morning or evening,” and 45% found it “difficult to set work and personal life boundaries.” Among SMB leaders, 61% felt this same pressure and 58% reported difficulties setting these work-life boundaries, per Adobe.
Great Resignation and burnout
In recent months, there’s been speculation of a Great Resignation of sorts as employees switch jobs in search of new career opportunities elsewhere. According to the Adobe report, 35% of enterprise workers are planning to switch jobs in the next 12 months and the probability of a worker seeking a new position increases “among employees struggling with time and productivity.” But what are employees looking for in a professional change of scenery?
Situationally, if a person’s salary and job description were the same, the top reasons enterprise workers said they would switch positions include improved work-life balance (66%), control over their work schedule (61%) and the “option to work remotely” (54%), per Adobe.
In the last year, employee burnout has been a point of conversation as remote workers struggle with work-life balance, child care responsibilities due to COVID-19 and more. Some of these factors could be leading to high turnover. About one-third (36%) of SMB leaders said they have “struggled with employee burnout or attribution” over the last 12 months.
The Adobe report also highlights a number of strategies SMB leaders have implemented to both retain current employees and recruit new workers. This includes adopting flexible hours (40%), additional benefits (25%), hiring remote workers nationally (16%), providing “equipment” for remote work (15%) and launching mental health programs (13%).
The same number of enterprise workers and SMB leaders (91%) said they were “interested in tools to make tasks or processes more efficient,” according to the report, and 54% said they’d switch jobs to have access to “better tools to be more effective” if their job description and salary were to remain unchanged.
“Employees are happier and feel more productive when they’re able to accomplish tasks seamlessly—and aren’t bogged down by things like file management and filling out forms that get in the way of doing their job effectively,” Gerber said.
The listed tools workers and leaders are interested in include solutions to help them search, share and access files, signing forms, invoicing and fulfilling payments as well as tools to assist with collaboration on “documents and managing workflows,” per Adobe.
“Technology removes the mundane from the workday and allows employees to focus on more strategic work,” Gerber said. “According to our research, if they had more time for work, more than half of enterprise workers would focus on the things they love about their job.”