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Is Virtual Work Hurting Younger Employees?

While remote work has brought many benefits, including greater flexibility and increased productivity for some employees, there is growing concern about the impact of virtual work on the younger generation.

Is virtual work hurting our younger employees? The answer is complicated.

As we continue evolving our post-pandemic workplaces, one of the hottest topics being discussed is the approach. Fully remote? In person? Or some hybrid? What’s best? I see so much sensationalism to promote a particular viewpoint, it’s been a struggle to find real data and feedback of what is working and not working.

Here are some considerations.

What is the generational perspective?

There are differences in how different generations view remote work. Millennials and Gen Z employees have grown up with technology and are comfortable working remotely. They value work-life balance and flexibility and often prefer to work from home or a location of their choosing.

Baby Boomers, on the other hand, tend to place a higher value on in-person interactions and may struggle with the isolation of remote work. Plus they may have a belief that you need to be in the office to be productive because that’s how it was when they were younger.

Perhaps surprisingly, some research has shown Gen X is the generation least likely to prefer working from home.

What does the data show?

There is evidence that virtual work can have positive impacts on employees of all ages. For example, a study by Harvard Business Review found that remote workers experienced less stress and had higher job satisfaction than in-office workers.

Remote workers also reported feeling more connected to their colleagues and had higher levels of trust with their team members.

Data supporting in-person work: While virtual work has its benefits, there is also evidence that in-person work can be important for younger employees. A study by Deloitte found that Millennials who had in-person interactions with their managers and colleagues were more likely to be satisfied with their careers and stay with their current employer. In-person interactions also provide opportunities for mentorship, collaboration, and learning from experienced colleagues.

What is the impact of virtual work on younger employees?

One of the main concerns about virtual work for younger employees is the lack of in-person interactions and mentorship opportunities.

Remote work can make it difficult for younger employees to build relationships with their colleagues and learn from experienced team members. This can lead to feelings of isolation and a lack of career development opportunities.

How Leaders Can Support Remote Work

However, it is important to note that not all younger employees are struggling with virtual work. Some have found ways to stay connected with their colleagues and have even thrived in a virtual work environment.

Companies can support younger employees by providing opportunities for virtual mentorship, collaboration, and learning. And in-person interactions can be important for career development and building relationships with colleagues.

When you build a supportive work environment, your team and organization can thrive. Ultimately, as a leader, the decision to work virtually or in-person will depend on the needs and preferences of individual employees and the requirements of their roles.

In my next article, I’ll share how you can improve remote work by creating better intersection points for your team.


Do you need help creating a generational edge across your workplace? Contact us to learn about Bill’s leadership keynote speakingexecutive coaching, and facilitation services.