Young workers struggling with WFH
Employers adopting hybrid working as workplaces reopen need to make sure they are meeting the needs of their youngest workers, according to new research.
A survey of 6,000 European office workers by business technology provider Sharp found that 66% of UK workers aged 21 to 30 had found it challenging to stay connected to colleagues while working remotely.
The majority (57%) also said the ability to meet with colleagues in person had become more important since the pandemic began, and 60% said a dynamic office environment had risen in importance since lockdown.
More than half (53%) said that working remotely blurred the boundaries between their work and home life.
However, while keen for some face-to-face interaction, across Europe Millennials and Gen Z workers overwhelming reported that they also wanted flexibility going forward.
Best of both worlds
Some 40% of respondents said their employer should offer flexible working hours, while 58% said the ability to set their own working hours – as opposed to having fixed hours – was more important to them than it had been pre-pandemic.
The majority (66%) also said the ability to work from anywhere was more important now.
In a report entitled The Future of Work, future of work psychologist Viola K. Kraus said: “Younger generations accept flexible working options as a given; they simply won’t work for a company that doesn’t offer it.”
However, she added: “21-24-year-olds in particular struggle to remain motivated when working remotely. This is partly because older professionals have more experience, while young people are still learning to navigate the office politics and have a natural need to be sociable and have those human connections.”
She said that those at the early stages of their careers were concerned that remote working could lead to a lack of career progression – some 63% of survey respondents said career progression and training opportunities had become more important to them.
“It is proving a struggle to keep young people motivated and engaged with a fully remote model. This presents a change management challenge, but after nearly a year of working remotely, by the middle of 2021 we will have new ways of working and more clarity over new career progression paths for younger employees.”
A separate study by office equipment supplier Office Needle gave some insight into some of the reasons younger workers find it difficult to stay motivated while working from home.
It surveyed 670 workers between May and June on the main distractions they face while working remotely, with the average age of respondents between 25 and 40.
It found that mobile phones and social media were the top distractions for workers, with 56% saying the former pulled their attention away from work, and 44% admitting the latter did the same.
Respondents also said they were taking significant breaks for entertainment, with 34% saying they spent more than an hour watching Netflix during their shift and 15% playing video games for more than an hour while on the clock.
Technology aside, household tasks also proved to be taking up significant amounts of workers’ time during working hours. The majority (67%) of those surveyed said they cooked during work hours, while 30% of dog owners said they walked their pet every day during their shift.
Other key distractions were doing chores (77%), taking care of children (31%), working out (32%) and having people over at their house (34%). Worryingly, 11% admitted to getting high or drunk on work time