Chief People Officer and EVP, Employee Experience at Adobe
Over the past year, we've learned a lot about what we can accomplish while working from home, but we've also missed coming together in person to kickstart new projects, tackle complex decisions and nurture new relationships. We believe the future of work for Adobe is hybrid — with flexibility as the default and digital powering how we work. This is a point of view we co-created with our employees.
As our offices reopen around the world, we're staying focused on the guiding principles behind our future of work strategy — to foster a strong culture, nurture collaboration and enable our employees to continue to grow and thrive. Listening, learning and iterating will be key to success in this journey – including using surveys, focus groups and analytics to measure things like engagement, sense of belonging and connection, and retention. Regardless of how and where we work, we're committed to building on what makes Adobe special — our creativity, innovation and culture — driven by our most important asset, people.
The answer to what a successful hybrid work model can look like lies partly in the lessons organizations will have drawn while working through the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic rapidly accelerated the move towards more flexible work models, CEOs, CTOs and CHROs are now required to completely rethink how they shape (and measure) the future of employee collaboration, productivity, and well-being through digital experiences.
While we operated as a nearly entirely distributed workforce through the pandemic, we've leaned into our own solutions and experimented with ways to make our technology more inclusive and collaborative. Google Workspace, for example, is leveraging AI to create more inclusive experiences for users, like giving proactive suggestions to help connect teams and conversations. We also conducted regular "Pulse" surveys, which has helped us understand our Cloud Googlers' challenges and quickly identify ways to move faster, work more collaboratively and inclusively, and act more decisively to keep up with the speed of the market and the needs of our customers.
As we take these innovations and learnings into the next phase of hybrid work, there are three areas we're looking to affect — productivity, collaboration and well-being — using quantitative and qualitative data to understand trends and impact. As a data-driven company, we'll continue to approach this hybrid model with a spirit of innovation and regularly invite Googlers to provide feedback to help us shape our future workplace.
As companies continue to build out return-to-work plans through a hybrid approach, it will be essential to maintain the empathy and flexibility that was developed over the last 18 months while many employees worked from home. Employees now expect to be supported through the transition and new challenges that arise, and these values of support and empathy must be woven into the fabric of an organization's hybrid culture.
Metrics for success in these return to work policies should be measured both qualitatively and quantitatively. There is a phenomenon across industries that has been coined "The Great Resignation." Organizations are experiencing a spike in turnover because employees have a renewed understanding of personal well-being and a desire for flexible work options. A hybrid work plan must take into account the factors that create a supportive environment (as well as ones that do not). Continued retention will be a key quantitative metric to track the success of a hybrid work plan.
Qualitative success will be reflected in the organizational culture among hybrid teams. Throughout the pandemic, teams asked their colleagues for more empathy and flexibility — whether that meant unusual working hours or more time for a deadline — and expect that to continue in a hybrid environment. Teams that continue to institute these practices, as opposed to more rigid workflows, are succeeding in an empathy-first return to work plan.
The signals of a successful hybrid work environment will show up clearly in employee satisfaction, the employee experience overall and of course, how our business continues to flourish. For Zoom, it's more about what employees deliver and making sure they're fulfilled in doing so than the time they punch in and out at the office.
A hybrid work plan offers flexibility, inclusivity, productivity and choice in how we work and live, and when given these choices, employees will bring their best selves to work. For example, working parents who have long commutes to and from their workplace can now join their last meetings of the day from home and make dinnertime with the family. Call it hybrid, call it radical flexibility; we just call it operational sensibility. Do right by the employee and far more often than not, they won't merely do right by the company, they'll do more. This is the power of the Zoom platform. The measures of success will never change: growth, productivity, efficiency, fulfillment.
First and foremost, the continued safety of our customers and employees and the places they go to work is our top priority. We're reviewing data on a daily basis when it comes to infection trends, new cases for employees and vaccination rates, and will continue to monitor — and make any necessary shifts in plan — as we move into a hybrid work environment.
As we move into a hybrid work model, we'll look at our physical office locations and resources while people are in the office, as well as digital resources that aid in collaboration for those working virtually or in blended teams. That means tracking data on how many employees are coming into the office, where they are sitting, and how and when they are using the digital assets we've provided to enable teamwork.
To make sure we're on track, we'll look at a combination of quantitative measures and qualitative feedback from our employees, including through surveys, focus groups, comments on internal platforms and supervisor feedback.
While data and analytics are key to making decisions, the feedback and sentiment we receive from our employees will ultimately help shape how we support our people as we learn to work in a new way.
At Coupa, our three core values guide everything we do. As we begin to shift from an all remote structure to a hybrid one, we'll use our values as a lens to evaluate not only the efficacy and productivity of our employee workforce, but also their happiness and satisfaction. We have started to conduct quarterly pulse core values/culture surveys to help us understand how employees feel about their working environment and are leveraging the results to inform our decision-making as we navigate a path forward.
Our initial survey revealed a natural push and pull between wanting to collaborate and make connections in person while retaining flexibility. We are doing what we can to support that flexibility, while still ensuring employees feel supported and empowered at all levels.
Employees should have the freedom to work in whatever way allows them to feel most productive and comfortable, which is ultimately where they'll make the most impact. At Addepar, we kicked off our hybrid-work plan with a companywide survey to understand not just our employees' preferences, but also their concerns and priorities moving forward. Regular internal surveys and leadership roundtables have been central to our decision-making and continue to be an important signal we use to monitor success as we begin welcoming employees back to the office.
Many of our employees shared that they want to be "office-first," meaning that they will primarily work at an Addepar office alongside colleagues, although they can still work remotely part of the time. A smaller portion of our employees want to be "remote-first" — this includes employees who don't live near an office or those who take public transit.
More than anything, employees are looking for flexibility - this includes letting them choose between working from the office or working from home, and choosing the day and time they can come into the office. Employees who miss going into the office will be able to come back safely, while those that don't want to travel are free to work from home. By taking a people-first approach, it can really be as simple as that.
Kevin McAllister ( @k__mcallister) is a Research Editor at Protocol, leading the development of Braintrust. Prior to joining the team, he was a rankings data reporter at The Wall Street Journal, where he oversaw structured data projects for the Journal's strategy team.