Sergey Nivens -

Coronavirus: Young employees struggle with remote working

Communications tools identified as key pain point and hindering productivity for young UK workers

One of the biggest worries about the lockdown ordered by the UK government was that non-digital natives would struggle to adapt to unified communications and teleworking in general, but research from Smartsheet suggests it is Gen Z and millennial workers who are suffering most from the new world of work.

The survey, commissioned by the enterprise achievement platform, was conducted between 8 and 15 April 2020 by Engine Insight. The sample of 1,004 adults in the UK were aged 18 and over, currently employed by companies with more than 1,000 employees, and previously worked in an office setting but are now working from home due to Covid-19.

The survey produced the surprising top-line finding that 89% of Generation Z and 91% of millennial workers reported difficulties in working from home as a result of Covid-19. Almost two-thirds of Gen Z workers and just over three-fifths of millennials felt that the amount of time spent on video calls made it harder to get their work done.

As many as 79% of the sampled UK workforce felt less connected to their teams – young workers especially so, with 85% of Generation Z and 81% of millennials reporting this issue. In addition, 68% of those surveyed regarded themselves as less informed about what was going on within their company since they started working from home. Young workers were found to be feeling it the most, with 79% of Generation Z and 69% of millennials reporting this issue, versus 66% of Generation X and 67% of boomers.

The survey also revealed several additional gaps in how younger and older workers approached productivity and workplace technology. Most UK workers were struggling to be productive and communicate following the transition to remote work. Nearly half of Generation Z workers (48%) in the UK said it had been difficult to stay organised and prioritise the most important work. In addition, nearly half of millennials (48%) noted that communicating with colleagues had been difficult, while 32% of Generation Z workers said the same.

Workers were also finding it harder to gather information on project updates. Nearly half (49%) of the sampled UK workers said they were finding it harder to give status updates on projects while working remotely. Only 11% said it was easier. Over half (58%) of UK workers said it was harder to get status updates on projects now that they’re working remotely, and only 9% said it was easier. The survey also found that 38% UK workers said understanding the status of projects they’re involved in and how they can best move them forward had been difficult since they began working from home.

“This research shows that the key to helping remote workers cope with the current circumstance, and thriving in the longer term, goes far beyond simply connecting people and teams through video-based technology,” said Smartsheet CEO Mark Mader. “To be effective, people need to stay deeply connected to their work and the work of their teams. They also need context, structure, tracking and visibility into their work. Providing those things is more important now than ever.”

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