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Remote Work Generation Gap May Actually Favor Older Workers

It’s been assumed that the widespread transition to working from home, one fraught with technological challenges and office culture clashes, has resulted in a generational divide. A new survey suggests that may have come to pass, but not in the way many expect.

Working from home isn’t as natural for younger workers as many might assume.

Older workers, perhaps contrary to preconceived notions about their fluency with technology, have actually been faring better than their younger colleagues, according to the new ABBYY COVID-19 Technology and Business Process survey. The global digital intelligence company surveyed 4,000 staff members in 20 industries across four countries — the U.S., UK, Germany and France — and found workers 55 years and older are doing markedly better than their under-35 counterparts. 

The survey found the digitally native generation is feeling more challenged, stressed and isolated. About 61% of the 35-and-younger group felt remote work made their jobs more challenging, while just 36% of 55-plus workers felt the same way. Young executives felt particularly frustrated; 85% felt business processes “wasted their time.” Maybe that has to do with expectations and understanding. Two-thirds of the younger workforce felt there wasn’t enough information provided about navigating processes and protocols at work. Younger workers also felt they lacked motivation to work (39%) and roughly 38% felt isolated working from home.

Those who are new to commercial real estate or started last year can easily feel cut off, robbed of valuable in-person learning and networking that can help lead to greater performance and propel a career forward. Young and single workers, particularly those dependent on commission-based compensation, can feel especially burdened by a market in the midst of an unprecedented slowdown.  

The survey’s authors suggested a few solutions, including flexible benefits that help younger parents cope with child care stress, more transparency to help digitally native workers understand and navigate the workplace, and a renewed commitment to fostering community among remote workers.