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Younger employees find remote working more difficult

Research reveals a disparity between millennials and older generations when it comes to their acclimatisation to remote working, prompting call for firms to provide targeted tools and training for employees during this difficult period

It is highly unlikely that there will ever be a return to work as we knew it following the Covid-19 outbreak, but more research from London-based tech developer Studio Graphene has emerged suggesting that it is younger workers who have struggled most to adopt to the new normal of remote working.

The most optimistic recent survey regarding when and if masses of people will reacquaint themselves with office life came from Xerox Holdings Corporation, which showed that even though, over time, many companies plan to have most employees back in an office environment, even in 12-18 months’ time only just over four-fifths of workers on average will likely have returned to the workplace, necessitating investment in new resources to support a hybrid remote and in-office workforce.

Yet only days earlier, The new workplace: Reimagining work after 2020 report from Okta highlighted the technological and cultural challenges office workers are facing and found that that just a quarter of UK workers want to go back to the office full time and only 31% of respondents said their productivity levels had taken a hit.

Studio Graphene surveyed more than 900 full-time workers in the UK to investigate how they have adapted to remote working in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. It found that just under a quarter of people of all ages have found the transition to remote working difficult. This figure rises to1 28% of millennials, compared with just 11% of those aged over 55.

Somewhat surprisingly, given that they are digital natives, 28% of millennials teleworking were found to have experienced regular problems with technology, while 30% have faced daily problems with their internet connection. This drops to just 18% and 12% of over-55s, respectively.

In addition, 27% of people of all ages felt that their organisation should have provided more training and support to help them do their jobs efficiently from home. This was the case for 30% of millennials, compared with only 9% of over-55s. Meanwhile, a third (33%) of millennials also reported having experienced physical aches and pains while working remotely, due to their home workstation not being suitably set up.

“This research reveals a disparity between millennials and older generations when it comes to people’s acclimatisation to remote working. Whether it is because of less suitable or comfortable living conditions, or higher expectations of their companies, it is clear that millennials are struggling more with the change”
Ritam Gandhi, Studio Graphene

Assessing what has emerged from the study, Ritam Gandhi, founder and director of Studio Graphene, said it was clear that after several weeks of lockdown in the UK, the challenge of remote working has clearly taken its toll on some people.

“Interestingly, this research reveals a disparity between millennials and older generations when it comes to people’s acclimatisation to remote working,” he noted. “Whether it is because of less suitable or comfortable living conditions, or higher expectations of their companies, it is clear that millennials are struggling more with the change – this includes tech issues, physical pains and the need for more support.

“I urge businesses to step up and provide tools and training for their employees during this difficult period. Importantly, they cannot treat their entire workforce the same, with each member of staff having unique needs and circumstances that they must support.”

This has not been the sole source of news that younger workers have found the new normal bringing new problems. An April 2020 survey from enterprise achievement platform Smartsheet 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.

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