Remote work has become more popular in recent years for a variety of reasons. As a result of technological advancements and the impact of the global pandemic over the past year, companies had to offer remote work options in order to keep businesses running as the world adapted to a new normal. Over the years, remote work has changed to reflect different groups of entrepreneurs. Some employees work from a home office, while others take the opportunity to travel. Some online workers known as “digital nomads” work out of recreational vehicles, coffee shops, and libraries. This flexibility has led to some market changes, and the workday has shifted away from the traditional schedule. A 9-to-5 Monday through Friday schedule is becoming less common as remote professionals flood the job market.
Overall, millions of people have embraced remote work, but what patterns have emerged in telecommuting in regards to millennials and baby boomers? Do attitudes toward remote professionals differ between generations? Here, we’ll take a look at generational approaches toward remote work and discover some key ways that these groups can work together in a more cohesive way.
Leadership: Millennials vs. Baby Boomers
With so many people looking to telecommute and the trend gaining momentum, what about the company’s perspective? How does management view remote professionals, and what are the differences that arise between generations? Interestingly, more than half of businesses employ a remote workforce, but many are still wary of it. The perspectives can vary depending on the age range of an organization’s leadership.
With older generations in the C-Suite, employees in remote roles are viewed in a less favorable light. In contrast, younger generations in leadership positions tend to view telecommuting as a necessary option. This difference in perception could be due to the older generation working for most of their careers in an office setting. Remote work was rare during the dawn of the Internet. The company had a physical location and a centralized community. In fact, many of the processes still in use today are based upon decades-old models.
With the rise in demand for mobile professionals, older generations are struggling to adapt. The most challenging aspect is combining differing philosophies between the cutting edge and traditional. These two generations are coming from different angles, and some organizations are resistant to this new trend.
One of the primary points of contention between generations and the idea of teleworking is accountability. Generally, older generations feel that employees working from home aren’t staying on task. In their opinion, the office environment provides a space that removes distractions. Particularly since younger generations are the most entrenched in social media, older management professionals may wonder if work is a priority.
However, millennials have developed a different approach to work altogether. More so than any other generation, millennials seem to blur the lines between work and life. As a result of the increasing trend of remote work, the market has begun to shift into more of a gig environment where jobs are considered single rather than continual assignments. This approach allows a millennial to complete work at any time and to frequently switch between work and life throughout the day.
One effect that the lockdown and the new normal have had on telework has been to demonstrate its viability. Leadership that was hesitant to incorporate telework was essentially forced to do so in the past year. Surprisingly, many organizations have found that workers stayed on task and, in some cases, were even more productive while working from home. No doubt, having proved that employees can still be productive while working from home, the trend of remote work may continue on an indefinite basis.
What Is the Future of Remote Work?
Several factors have led to a rise in remote workers and presented the challenging task of integrating a different model into the existing marketplace. First, communication technology has advanced to the point that it’s no longer getting in the way. Second, people from different generations vary in their approaches to the way they conduct business. Baby boomers are more hesitant to embrace telecommuting because the organizational processes put into place years ago don’t fit the new model. Millennials have begun to change the marketplace and combine their work and personal lives with less separation than previous generations.
The major catalyst for a sudden increase in telework has been the coronavirus and lockdowns over the past year. Businesses had to develop remote solutions and adapt their established practices. Organizations discovered that their employees were even more productive at home than they were at the office in many cases. This shift toward remote workers is not a temporary situation for many in the workforce, and it will become a permanent fixture in the business world.