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Millennials and Remote Work: A Potential Disconnect?

Millenials et télétravail

Remote work is losing popularity among the younger generation, according to recent studies. Millennials are more eager than their older counterparts to return to the office. Let’s delve into the explanations.

The COVID-19 pandemic drastically shook up HR policies and telecommuting practices. As remote work became widespread due to the health crisis, companies had to adapt.

Has this new way of operating appealed to everyone? The answer is no, or more precisely, “not everyone.”

Remote work doesn’t present the same reality for everyone. Some people live in cramped spaces. Others struggle with young children at home. Yet others suffer from loneliness. Recent studies have shown that young people are lacking social connections.

So, what are employees’ expectations when it comes to remote work? It depends. The relationship with remote work varies based on the worker’s age.

In this article, explore the relationship between millennials and remote work.


Millennials and Remote Work: The Relationship Between Workers and Remote Work Varies by Generation

Today, an organization’s workforce comprises four generations:

  • Baby boomers (1946-1964)
  • Generation X (1965-1980)
  • Millennials (1981-1995)
  • Generation Z (1996-2012)

Each of these generations has a unique relationship with remote work.

Millennials—also known as “Generation Y”—have their own codes and aspirations regarding remote work. These can sometimes clash with the needs of previous generations.

Recent studies have demonstrated that the younger generations aren’t as enthusiastic about remote work as one might have thought. Since the health crisis, the connection between millennials and remote work isn’t quite the same.


Millennials Want to Return to the Workplace

With the pandemic, the remote work experience has generally been very positive. A majority of employees want to continue remote work to some extent when things return to normal.

But here’s the surprise! Millennials and remote work don’t always go hand in hand. While young people are often considered hyper-flexible digital natives, independent, and eager for freedom, recent studies show that this perception needs nuance. For Generation Y, remote work is good, but not excessively. Contrary to common beliefs, the younger generations (Generation Y and Generation Z) are more enthusiastic than their elders about returning to the office.

An article in Le Monde highlights this point: “Only 14.5% of surveyed remote workers refuse to continue remote work, but the number rises to 20.6% among those aged 18-29. The younger generation, whom we might have assumed were more inclined toward remote work due to their desire for organizational freedom and digital expertise, are claiming their offices. This percentage increases to 28.7% for young singles and 36.1% for young women. The need for social and professional interaction, especially at the start of one’s career, is significant. The workplace remains a crucial space for socializing and networking for the youth.”

Studies affirm that enthusiasm for returning to the office decreases with age. Generation X and baby boomers are less excited about going back to the workplace.


Millennials Need In-Person Contact

When starting their careers, young employees need to connect with colleagues and managers. These interactions help them grow, learn, and acquire new skills.

Remote work can disrupt millennials’ sense of belonging, especially if they haven’t yet fully integrated into the company. They might not understand the company’s culture and norms. Older workers, on the other hand, are much more comfortable and can easily adapt their skills to remote work without needing as much guidance from their managers.

Millennials also experience loneliness more easily when they spend entire days at home. They enjoy going to the office for the social connections it provides. Millennials and remote work can coexist, but in moderation.


How Can Managers Best Balance Millennials and Remote Work?

As you’ve understood, expectations regarding remote work differ among generations. It’s up to managers to support each generation of workers according to their needs. While millennials are proficient with technology and value autonomy, they can feel frustrated with remote work. They view it as time-consuming due to complex processes.

Understanding millennials’ expectations regarding remote work is crucial to ensure better productivity and genuine engagement within the company.

Even though millennials value office presence, they also appreciate remote work. Managers should shift away from an obsession with physical presence, as the misconception that more time spent at the office equates to more work isn’t accurate. To ensure quality work, managers are encouraged to set objectives and conduct regular check-ins.

Managers can also remember that remote teams can be effectively managed by scheduling regular virtual team meetings and simplifying processes for younger generations.


Interested in further exploration?