Mind the generational gap: the post-pandemic working needs of millennials and Gen-Z

We’re not quite there yet in terms of being truly “post-pandemic”, but as we slowly crawl towards a semblance of normality, it begs the question: how does everyone feel about returning to the office?

Some offices are back to business, some are still staggering the amount of staff they have in, and some workplaces have opted not to forgo the office entirely. But whatever decision has been made about a workplace, not everyone will be happy about it. There’s a lot of conflicting opinions over working from home, and has revealed a, not an entirely unexpected, generational divide.

Millennials and Gen-Z

According to research, it’s millennials and zoomers who appear to be struggling the most with working from home. Yeah, we were surprised too. A study with 1000 participants revealed that zoomers were the most pro-office, with 8.1% having an actively negative experience with WFH. Millennials weren’t far behind at 7.4%. Another study corroborated this with 34% of zoomers stating that they found themselves to be their most productive when in the office.

So, what’s the reason?

Millennials, in their late twenties and thirties now, might have young families which proved to be particularly challenging when the stay at home orders were in place and children couldn’t attend school or nursery. However, despite these issues, millennials also like WFH options as it allows greater flexibility for childcare.

Zoomers and some younger millennials also struggle with noises and distractions at home, albeit for slightly different reasons. Shared accommodation is fairly common for these age brackets, meaning that they’re working alongside others who are either working from home themselves, or work on swing schedules that can be distracting.

Dealing with feelings of isolation was also a common problem experienced with younger generations while WFH. Socialising with colleagues, collaborating on group projects, and being mentored are all perks of office life, which younger workers are missing out on which could negatively impact their work and feeling satisfied. Newer workers also rely on positive feedback from mentors and colleagues to understand how they’re progressing, something that has fallen by the wayside during WFH and has negatively impacted confidence.

Of course, we can’t speak for everyone. Millennials and zoomers disproportionately make up the majority of freelancers and digital nomads; for them, going sans-office is just part of the job description. But for regular workers, it’s clear that the return to office life is a welcome one.

Boomers and Gen-X

And for the older generations? Despite early teething issues with technology (“You’re on mute, Barbara”) and getting used to the change, boomers and Gen-Xers have taken to the change like ducks to water and – also surprisingly – prefer it. In the same Hubble study, just 4.3% of boomers and Gen-Xers said they disliked working from home, with a staggering 71.7% saying they had a positive experience with it – 8% more than Gen-Z.

There’s no surprises why WFH is popular with them. After a couple of decades of waking up early and heading to work, it’s easy to see how they’d be, quite frankly, over it and relish the chance to not have to worry about getting to the office on time for a change. Unlike their younger colleagues, WFH also poses a lot less obstacles and distractions for them. Employees in these age brackets tend to have their own homes, some have room to spare for a converted office, any children will have grown up and moved on, and there’s no housemates to deal with. Their seniority also plays a part in being comfortable working away from the office. Having been in the workforce longer, they know what needs to be done and what is expected of them.

Moving forward

So, how do you keep everyone happy? It can be hard to find the perfect fit, but the best approach is flexibility. Giving employees the option to choose where they spend their working weeks and when they spend it allows for them to take control over their schedules and tasks, as well giving them a strong feeling of agency and trust. But some need to go beyond just the regular office and their homes, workers need extra stimulation and change too. The challenge is combining all of these aspects into one fluid working week.

We propose hybrid working. It’s a blend of working in the office, home, and another different location that can be anywhere an employee likes. This hybrid model ensures that everyone’s needs are met, while also inspiring change and creativity, creating a happier, more productive workforce.

Want to introduce a hybrid working model to your office? Why not support your employees with encouraging and funding remote working? Wise is a handy app that lets workers book pay-to-use spots in inspirational co-working locations across the country. Head to our FAQ for more.

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