One of the unwritten codes of the new hybrid office is that younger staff working from home have fewer opportunities to network and learn at work. The problem with that analysis? Younger staff don’t believe it.
New research from King’s College London showed that 40 per cent of 16-to-24-year-olds with a workplace in the UK capital find it easier to volunteer for key tasks and ask questions when working remotely. Conversely, their older peers are more inclined to see working from home as a barrier to learning and networking.
“Younger workers are more likely to see the positive potential in how the use of technology can flatten hierarchies to allow them to ask questions, put themselves forward and build connections,” said Bobby Duffy, director of the university’s Policy Institute.
“This could be because younger workers don’t realise what they’re missing — but it could also be that older workers are stuck with an outdated view of how development can happen.”
The survey revealed a divergence in opinions even with those only slightly older. Workers aged between 25 and 49 are less likely to offer to take on key tasks or ask questions than their younger peers, the data showed.
The research highlights a generational gap at the heart of the hybrid working debate in the UK.
To back return-to-office calls, managers regularly argued that in-person work is key to learning on the job, making chance connections and rising up in the office. But younger workers — who should be most concerned about tapping those benefits — see things as more nuanced.
About 20 per cent of young workers say remote work actually helps to build connections with colleagues, the research showed. That sentiment was mirrored by only a fraction of those aged 50 and above.
Hybrid working can also be a money-saving strategy. Those who work from home can live in cheaper places and avoid travel costs for at least a few days a week.
The findings might also indicate trouble ahead for employers planning to force everyone back into the office. A majority of London workers would rather quit than follow a work schedule they don’t like, the research showed.