The Importance of Remote Working to Younger Generations

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As more jobs shifted to remote work during the Covid-19 crisis, many Millennial and Gen Z employees experienced “flex work” for the first time in their careers. According to the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020, 45% of these younger employees had never worked remotely before the pandemic, compared with just a third after the onset of the pandemic.

As of May 2020, the shift to remote work had largely been viewed positively by employees, with more than 60% of younger generations saying they would like the option to work remotely more often after the crisis and use video conferencing instead of traveling for work.

The cost benefits were tangible for workers, with flex work saving them money on commuting, clothes and dry cleaning. Two-thirds of Millennials additionally feel that remote work creates a better work/life balance. Half of respondents—especially those who are parents and who hold leadership positions—also say they are better able to bring their “true selves” to work by having an office at home.

More broadly, some seven in 10 Millennials and about two-thirds of Gen Zers say the option of working from home after the pandemic would help relieve stress. That’s a potentially large benefit for employers as well, considering that before the pandemic, about a third of Millennials and Gen Zers took time off work for stress-related issues.

Companies Also Get A Boost

Flexible working done right can offer several perks for employers. Beyond relieving stress of employees, a 2015 study by CoSo Cloud found that 77% of part- and full-time workers reported feeling more productive when they work remotely, while nearly a third said they accomplish more work in less time. Separately, a two-year Stanford study revealed that flex workers also take shorter breaks, had fewer sick days and took less time off.

Companies that enable flex work also have nearly three times as many female leaders as traditional companies. “In normal times, flex work provides working parents the flexibility that a traditional office can’t, while allowing them to continue pursuing their professional aspirations,” says Michele Parmelee, chief people and purpose officer, Deloitte Global.

Flex work also advances progress toward environmental sustainability by reducing an organization’s carbon footprint (a top issue for younger employees both before and after the pandemic began), Parmelee adds.

It’s clear that flexible working done right can hold myriad benefits for both employers and employees, but it’s not enough for employers to just shift their organization’s old ways of operating to a digital model. Rather, employers will need to ensure their people and culture also adapt to the new mode of working. The current crisis may very well present a test for employers to see how well they are able to reap the benefits of flex working.

The Business World Moved To Remote Work Quickly During The Pandemic… But Is It Sustainable?

Employees gave their employers high marks for their ability to shift quickly to remote working during the pandemic. Two-thirds of respondents in the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey said their employers’ IT technologies enabled them to effectively communicate and continue their work during the pandemic. The same number of respondents said their employers offered flexible working hours and leave policies to support their remote work.

Half of those surveyed also said their employers provided the education and skills development they needed for effective flex work—and that management trusted them to be productive while working outside the office.

“I think the business world surprised itself with its ability to adapt to this unprecedented situation so swiftly,” says Steve Hatfield, future of work leader, Deloitte Global. “Large swaths of the workforce were able to step into working virtually in some fashion in a very short amount of time.”

However, while organizations were quick to shift to remote work, Hatfield warns that “the lift and shift” of in-person working dynamics to remote working is not sustainable over the long term if employers don’t focus on the right elements going forward.

“Organizations are just getting to the point where they’re starting to realize that we have to rethink completely the way work is done if we’re going to sustain this,” says Hatfield. “Leaders are now starting to ask, ‘How do I lead a distributed workforce in this fashion? How do I lead in general? How do we maintain company culture? How do I make sure everybody’s productive?’”

These are the questions leaders must address if they are to sustain a successful long-term remote working environment.

By Deloitte BrandVoice