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Data: IBM Institute for Business Value; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

A new survey finds employers are embracing a new, more digitized way of working accelerated by the pandemic, while employees fear being left behind.

Why it matters: The realities of COVID-19 compressed years of remote work growth into a matter of months. But the onus is now on executives to support their workforces as the crisis shifts to the new normal.

What's happening: Today, IBM released its 2020 C-suite study, which surveyed more than 3,800 high-level executives in 20 countries on their outlook, both during COVID-19 and in the years ahead.

  • They report the pandemic has busted pre-pandemic barriers to digital transformation, with 66% of executives surveyed saying they've completed initiatives that had previously been held up by internal resistance.

The catch: The report showed a major gap between how executives think their company is helping workers during the pandemic and how workers themselves feel.

  • That gap isn't just about corporate communication — nearly a quarter of workers surveyed reported having been either furloughed or laid off, and they're well aware that more automation and digitization may translate to less work for humans.
  • "There's an elevation of expectations with employees in respect to their employers," says Jesus Mantas, a senior managing partner at IBM. "That creates a gap in leadership."

What to watch: Whether executives are able to adapt their leadership techniques to a hybrid or even fully remote future — and whether they can keep workers engaged now that the adrenaline of the spring has long since worn off.

Go deeper: How COVID-19 reshapes the jobs of the future

Go deeper

Alphabet workers announce a union

Photo: Mason Trinca/Getty Images

A group of more than 200 employees at Google's parent company announced on Monday that they've signed union cards with the Communications Workers of America, forming the Alphabet Workers Union.

Why it matters: This is the largest and most high-profile unionization effort among tech workers to date. The tech industry has historically eschewed unions, unlike other sectors like the auto industry.

Jan 5, 2021 - Technology

Former Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn joins IBM as vice chairman

Gary Cohn (R) with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Gary Cohn, the former top economic adviser to President Trump and former president of Goldman Sachs, tweeted Tuesday that he is joining IBM as vice chairman.

The big picture: Cohn, a Democrat, was considered one of the most powerful "globalists" in Trump's West Wing. He disagreed with Trump on just about every issue besides tax cuts and resigned in 2018 after a struggle inside the White House over tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

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