Work from home experience differs by age groups

Older workers cite longer hours, greater productivity with remote work

Work from home experience differs by age groups

More than two in five (44 per cent) Canadians say they worked longer hours during the pandemic, but this is not the same for all ages.

While 48 per cent of 26- to 40-year-olds report clocking extra hours, 31 per cent of those under 25 say the same, according to a survey by ADP Canada.

As for productivity while working from home, gen X (46 per cent) and baby boomers (47 per cent) are the most likely to report it increased. Meanwhile, 42 per cent of millennials also indicate an increase in the quality of their work, compared with just 31 per cent of gen Z workers.

However, four in 10 respondents across all age groups note an increase in stress levels as a result of the pandemic, found the survey of 566 working Canadians working remotely, including those working full and part time.

Fostering resilience in both employees and managers is a key way to manage stress, according to a psychologist.

Returning to the workplace

Gen Z workers (36 per cent) are also the most excited about a return to the workplace, followed closely by millennials (34 per cent). Meanwhile, only 29 per cent of gen X and 26 per cent of baby boomers are looking forward to returning to the office.

Just 20 per cent of Canadians want to go back to the office full time once people are able to return to pre-pandemic routines, according to a separate report.

“This data clearly demonstrates each generation experiences remote work differently,” says Megha Makam, senior HR business advisor at ADP Canada. 

“While stress is a common thread, younger employees show more interest in returning to the office, suggesting that they likely value face-to-face interaction and may even believe working remotely may hinder their career development, while others, in more established roles, may be thriving with remote work. It’s important to identify these generational differences and open the conversation with each employee’s experience when developing supportive programs or initiatives.”

Mental health support mixed

Employees of different ages also do not share the same feelings towards supports provided by their employers, according to ADP Canada.

Mental health and wellness support is also commonly noted among millennials and gen X remote workers, with nearly half (48 per cent) of both generations saying their employers have introduced initiatives in this area during COVID-19. However, 65 per cent of gen Z say their workplace did not introduce such initiatives during the pandemic or they were not aware of them if they did.

“So much has changed in the past year – including the way we work and the way we interact with each other,” says Makam. “The survey findings support a call to action for employers to adjust how we communicate with and support each generation of the workforce. A blanket approach simply does not work when it comes to navigating remote work.”

Providing employees with individualized support is important amid the pandemic, according to Wei Zheng, associate professor of management and Richard R. Roscitt Endowed chair in leadership at Stevens Institute of Technology, who conducted a study to find out how professionals were reacting to the unanticipated disruption of a global crisis

“When leaders showed an understanding of employees’ needs, preferences, and circumstances when it came to work arrangements, employees felt it provided the individualized support they needed to help them accomplish work goals,” she says in the Harvard Business Review.

This practice was especially relevant at the beginning of the pandemic and remains true as the crisis continues, says Zheng

“People have different family situations, living arrangements, and socioeconomic circumstances, and varying degrees of familiarity with remote-work technology and best practices.”

While 50 per cent of organizations now have a standalone wellbeing strategy in support of a wider strategy, 46 per cent still lack a formal strategy or approach, according to an earlier report.

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