Is the preference for remote work generational?

Is the preference for remote work generational?

The younger generation loves to work from home or on the road, while the older generation has difficulty with modern communication and prefers to go to the office. So is the cliché. But is that really true? Here is a look through our current study results from a generational perspective.

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The Corona-related lockdown has brought about a lasting change in the working world. Remote work, which was previously the exception for many companies, has become a permanent feature for many. For some employees, it means an excellent opportunity to better balance career and family; for others, it is a rather frustrating situation due to the monotony.

According to a survey of 500 employees worldwide, 41 percent of those surveyed would like to work permanently from their home office after the corona crisis. Although this is a large proportion, many employees are also hesitant and prefer the traditional office.

But who really likes the absolute home office solution? And who prefers to spend their working day at their usual desk in the office? Does this have to do with age? Do the usual clichés apply here, which would say that the “older” generation has the greatest difficulties with digital networking?

A look at the different generations in the labor market

The baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964 (today 56-74 years old), were the first post-war generation after the Second World War. In working life, they are considered to be very structured and team-oriented. Their motivation is the feeling of being needed. The communication medium of this generation is the telephone.

Generation X, born between 1965 and 1979 (today 41-55 years), first experienced the economic crisis and was shaped in their childhood by the high divorce rate of their parents. In their working lives, they are results-oriented, technically adept and value the greatest possible freedom in the organization of their work. Their communication medium is email and mobile phones.

Generation Y, born between 1980 and 1993 (today 27-40 years), consciously experienced the turn of the millennium and is marked by the Internet boom and globalization. Those born during this period are considered masters of multitasking and are convinced that work should first and foremost be fun. Climbing up the career ladder is not so important to them; what counts more is self-realization and being networked. Their communication medium is Web 2.0.

Generation Z, born between 1994 and 2010 (today 10-26 years) has already completely integrated the digitalization of everyday life into their lives and is also described as “digital native(s).” Self-realization is not only sought in their work, but above all in their leisure time and social contacts. Remote working, as it was shaped by the corona crisis, is becoming absolutely natural for this generation.

Based on the affinities, motivations and digitalization described above, one would now assume that the baby boomers and Generation X would have the greatest difficulties with the home office. Similarly, we would expect Generations Y and Z to see remote working as an absolute matter of course.

Are the clichés about Remote Work correct?

Based on the affinities, motivations and digitalization described above, one would now assume that the baby boomers and Generation X, who used the telephone and email as their primary means of communication during work, would have the greatest difficulties with the home office. Similarly, we would expect Generations Y and Z to see remote working as an absolute matter of course, as they have already fully integrated all virtual means of communication into their way of working.

A look at the survey results for generations X and Y: Clichés do not apply

In fact, our survey has produced the following results: Among the 45-54 year-olds (Generation X) surveyed in Germany, 61 percent said they were used to working from home. If the 25-34 year-olds are contrasted with this (Generation Y), the majority of respondents of this generation (59 percent) surprisingly say that it is rather an unfamiliar situation to work from home. 89 percent of Generation X say they enjoy working from home, while only 70 percent of Generation Y say they do.

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The two generations are very similar in other respects: The majority state that the greatest advantage of the home office is that it saves travel and thus allows them to gain important time for family and/or leisure (Generation X: 87 percent, Generation Y: 79 percent). In addition, the majority of both generations state that they can work just as productively or more productively in the home office as in the office (Generation X: 65 percent, Generation Y: 78 percent).

As the generational comparison shows, traditional patterns of thought do not apply here. The older generation in particular enjoys working from home, works just as productively or more productively at home, and obviously has no problems with digital transformation in the office.

Conclusion: Despite the cross-generational preference for remote work, keep an eye on and address disadvantages

So the results show that the preference for remote working situations is not age-related and is more personal/situation-related.

Despite the preferences that remote work seems to bring across generations, it is important for companies to also keep an eye on the drawbacks of remote working and support employees in their long-term home offices. The option for regular personal exchange should be established through virtual coffee breaks. In addition, regular feedback and development meetings are necessary, because the lower visibility of employees can have a negative impact on development in many companies.

In addition, digital transformation in the company should be advanced and well thought-out so that communication and processes remain efficient…

What generation do you belong to – and do the clichés apply to you? In any case, we wish you a lot of fun with mobile working.

Text:
Photos: Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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