New research from Chargifi reveals that since working from home, Gen Z and Millenials feel disproportionately isolated, and say it is negatively impacting their ability to build and develop relationships at work, and potentially harming their career progress.
The survey of 2,000 US and UK office workers found that over two-thirds of workers aged 18 - 34 (67%) say since working from home, they've found it harder to make friends and maintain relationships with colleagues. Almost three quarters (71%) feel their work colleagues are more distant, and 54 per cent even say that prolonged remote working has caused them to drift apart from workmates.
When asked how they would feel about continuing to work remotely on a full-time basis, this age group also expressed concerns about being lonely: 81 per cent of younger workers say they would feel more isolated without time in the office, compared to 64 per cent of those aged over 35.
The older generations have noticed less of an impact on their work relationships over the past year. Almost a third of respondents aged over 35 say their ability to make friends or maintain relationships with colleagues has not changed since working remotely (31%).
The research from hybrid work specialist Chargifi also found that continuing to work from home is likely to exacerbate the social disconnect for younger workers and negatively impact their productivity levels. One in seven (70%) fear they will miss out on opportunities to socialise if it becomes permanent, a situation which would result in them enjoying their job less (59%) and finding it harder to focus (63%).
When asked about the benefits they'd look for in a new role, hybrid working was listed as a top priority for all workers, with more than a third (38%) seeking this type of set-up. Flexible working hours were also seen as crucial by 42 per cent of all workers.
However, it's clear that the social element is an important driver in productivity and happiness for Gen Z and Millennial workers. Over a quarter (29%) listed regular social and team building events as one of the most attractive employee benefits, alongside a good salary (44%), modern office environment (40%), wellbeing support (40%), and career growth and ongoing training opportunities (38%).
Meanwhile, for workers aged over 35 the social element is less of a contending factor when it comes to job appeal. This generation of workers look for a good salary (58%), generous holiday (51%), flexible working arrangements (50%) and an enhanced pension (43%).
Dan Bladen, CEO of Chargifi said, "there's no doubt that the pandemic has shaped the future of work; but more than this, it's had a fundamental impact on the happiness and wellbeing of workers. While organizations have done their best to adapt, we've yet to experience the full consequences, particularly when it comes to the next generation of workers.
"100 per cent remote working might be convenient for some, but for others, it's a recipe for loneliness - and younger workers have been disproportionately affected. They're missing out on the benefits of being surrounded by more experienced colleagues and the informal learning and mentoring that comes with this. What's more, these younger workers are now quitting if they're not happy. Every employer's top priority should be to create the best workplace experience they can for their teams. Ensuring that true hybrid working between home and office is enabled will empower workers of all ages, while ensuring that businesses recruit and retain the very best talent."