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Across the Ages: How Different Generations Feel About Remote Work

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about innumerable changes in our daily lives. From masks to vaccines to self-quarantine, we have had to adapt quickly to new demands. For many workers, one of the most striking changes has been the transition from the office building to the home office. As the pandemic wore on, generational differences in remote work began to emerge. It’s becoming clear that different generations experience the transition to remote work quite differently from each other.  

A New Normal

As attention shifts to the future of workplaces post-pandemic, many workers have reservations about a return to the old routine. According to a study conducted in summer 2021 by the Conference Board, the feelings of high productivity that many workers reported while working remotely have influenced attitudes toward in-office work. In the study, 43% of workers interviewed were unsure if working full-time in the office would be a boon to their productivity. Millennials were more likely to express reservations about in-person work than their older colleagues, with 55% of millennial respondents questioning the need to return to in-person work, compared with 45% of Gen Xers and 36% of baby boomers.

Part of the generational difference in views of remote work may be attributable to differences in phases of life. More and more members of younger generations, especially Millennials, are becoming parents of young children, whereas baby boomers and Generation Xers are more likely to have older children who are in their teens or are themselves adults. While many employees across generations support a hybrid working model, a McKinsey article reported that parents with young children are most likely to prefer such a model, compared to those without young children, who are nearly three times more likely to prefer on-site work. However, even among employees without young children, the majority still favor more flexible working models over a return to only on-site work.

The changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to influence work life long after the pandemic has ended. More and more, experts are predicting that workers will not return to offices full time as they did before, and employers and workers alike are looking anxiously to the future.

What’s Next

Associations, like other employers, are having to consider the changing demands of their workforce and the new dynamics of remote work. At the same time, demographics of association memberships are shifting. Stay tuned for part two of this series as we explore how associations can navigate these challenges and make the most of the new opportunities remote work presents. The YGS Group can also help associations strengthen their connections to their members and expand their audience to new association members. Reach out to us to see how we can help you keep your finger on the pulse of your membership.

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