The past year has seen an almost overnight shift to remote work, during which many professionals have swapped their commute for a work from home set-up that doesn’t quite mirror the office environment – often finding themselves working from the spare room or kitchen table. Now, as businesses reduce office space and companies introduce permanent remote working, research from Deloitte shows a quarter of British employees could end up working from home for good.
For the professionals that long for the luxury of an office, this could be quite a daunting prospect – with a recent report from GWI and LinkedIn showing professionals aged 21-40 are currently struggling to adapt to the blurred boundaries between home and work. This group make up, what GWI and LinkedIn have affectionately coined, the BETAs: the first cohort of digital natives to assume positions of seniority in business, at a time of dislocation.
The report characterises the BETAs as those with blurred work-life boundaries, an evolving mindset and tech natives but time poor, whilst also having raised levels of activism. This LinkedIn Generation typically spend an extra 550 hours per year on their smartphones than their older colleagues, which equates to an additional 68.5 working days. They also find it particularly difficult to ‘switch off’ from work, with 80% of this group regularly working late or overtime, and 1 in 5 not having a set workspace at home.
“The loss of dedicated workspace due to the pandemic is felt intensely by BETAs. They’re most likely to be living in shared households or with their parents, and are least likely to have their own home office,” writes Tyrona Heath, the director of market engagement at LinkedIn’s B2B Institute, in a recent article looking at the BETAs. “The work day also often bleeds into their personal day and so working late, working overtime, checking emails outside work, and using personal devices for professional reasons are all behaviours they engage in more than any other cohort.”
Now that it looks like remote work is here to stay, businesses need to make the necessary changes to support employees. Providing the right technology – from the more basic necessities like a second screen and keyboard, to sharing access to tools like Zoom, Slack, and Asana – will foster a better working environment for these tech natives at home. Investing further in mental health initiatives, such as team socials and resources like Headspace, will also help employees to mentally distance from work. Above all, incorporating respect for time and flexibility into the company culture will create boundaries, and enable the “always on” generation to more easily adapt to this remote style of work.
The loss of dedicated workspace due to the pandemic is felt intensely by BETAs. They’re most likely to be living in shared households or with their parents, and are least likely to have their own home office.