Working successfully from home requires more than secure Wi-Fi, a VPN and video conferencing. And younger workers are finding it more difficult than older ones.
That is according to a new survey by Engine Insights, commissioned by Smartsheets.
When the workforce suddenly shifted from working on-site to remote locations, organizations first focused on getting everyone set up with access to the systems, software, data and connections they needed to continue working. Security, as InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo have discussed, is a crucial but challenging aspect of that.
But accessing necessary systems, software and files only supplies the workers with their usual tools. They need more than that. According to the survey, 75 percent of the overall remote workforce “feels less connected,” these days. And there are some generational differences of which to take note. That sense of disconnection is higher among the younger generations, with 82 percent of Generation Z and 81 percent of Millennials saying so.
Sixty percent feel less informed and again, younger workers feel it most: 74 percent of Gen Z and 66 percent of Millennials, vs. 53 percent of Gen X and 50 percent of Baby Boomers.
And though workers feel disconnected and out of the loop, they nevertheless say time spent on video calls is interfering with their productivity. The age divide appears here as well, with 61 percent of Gen Z and 57 percent of Millennials agreeing, while just 35 percent of Gen X and 26 percent of Baby Boomers agree.
Nearly half of the younger crowd find it difficult to communicate with colleagues, compared to just over a third of the older crowd (yes, we just called Gen X part of the older crowd!).
Email is the predominant method of finding out or communicating project status. But 21 percent of men use messaging apps, while only 12 percent of women do. Nineteen percent use the phone or video calls most often to get project updates.
If you’ve worked remotely before, the issues of communication and a sense of a lack of connectedness will not be surprising. Working remotely is not the same as working in the office. There is an entire social dimension to the office missing at home, but it goes beyond just the social. And given the forced wide scale of remote working now, managers need to understand that these are issues.
Managers face a new layer of challenge in managing their teams. Accountability may seem the big challenge to some managers—they cannot see staff arrive at work or whether they are at their desks rather than hanging out at the coffee machine. The simple approach of observation is out. Managers have to look at results. What’s getting done? Are the right things getting done? Are longer-term tasks or projects moving forward as well as the immediate-need stuff? And if not, why not?
But managers have a bigger challenge: leading. That is, encouraging and inspiring while directing their team to get work done. And that involves ensuring communication, making everyone feel connected. It means keeping everyone up with what’s going on, so they still feel a part of the team, its work and its success. Younger staffs lack the experience that helps provide perspective and a broader contextual understanding of the team and its job within the organization than older workers have. But everyone needs to feel their connection.
The basic elements of leadership are unchanged. In this case, some of those elements gain particular relevance: communicating, providing feedback (or “feed-forward” to address positive change), recognizing achievements and reporting results.
Managers have to find the right touch—what helps, what is not enough, what is too much? And based on the survey results, do not neglect anyone but be aware of the needs of younger team members.
That said, continue to look for ways that technology and its connections can help. That includes tools for securely onboarding vendors, as well as providing vendor self-service automation to handle the load of invoice inquiries while satisfying vendors’ need to know. For information on how VendorInfo and InvoiceInfo can help, contact us.