The hybrid world of work has presented several problems, as well as unique possibilities and new methods to empower the workforce. Understanding how to deal with unexpected developments becomes critical for success, as companies and executives get ready for a future where hybrid working is the norm.

The long-term effects of the coronavirus pandemic remain unknown.. However, it is evident that the current turmoil will have a long-term influence across all generations. Every generation’s adaptability quotient varies, and they all have faced their own set of distinct challenges. Gradually, they are attempting to cope with the problems and do their best at work.

Managing an increasing multi-generational workforce in this hybrid world of work brings a set of new challenges not only for organizations but for employees themselves. Further, to maintain productivity and innovation, employees of different ages and backgrounds need to find ways to collaborate with each other to meet the organization’s objectives. This period of disruption provides an opportunity to examine how employees of different ages experience, react and adapt to intense change.

GenX

GenX, the oldest generation in the workplace, born between 1965 and 1979 and has struggled to adjust to the new world of work. Many of them have senior positions and feel fulfilled in their careers. Many of the younger generations may not understand this but being unable to work outside of their homes has made them feel powerless.

Many employees believe that working from home has helped level the playing field. The reality is that this generation has been exposed to a new style of working suddenly, and it is not simple to adjust to a new environment overnight. This generation of employees has developed a startling sense of isolation.

One of GenX’s biggest challenges has been keeping up with the latest technological advancements. Today’s collaboration tools aren’t the same as those utilized by Generation X to communicate with one another. This is not to say that Generation X is not technologically competent. Technology is not a foreign concept to many members of this age, but they are not used to integrating it into their daily duties. Most of them are not used to being constantly glued to their mobile device or even their laptop.

Here is how they are learning to deal with this change:

Ergonomic home office setup : Being accustomed to working in an office with a separate cabin for work, they have set up a dedicated workplace at home to increase their productivity. A properly planned out setup has helped them bring normalcy and productivity into this new normal.

Cross-generational Mentoring : As the name suggests, Cross-generational mentoring is defined as pairing individuals from different generations with the goal of mutual learning and growth. Through mentoring, GenX were able to share experiences, skills, and knowledge to create a bridge with younger generations. Like traditional mentoring, cross-generational mentoring has opened a lot of networking opportunities ensuring this generation feels engaged and motivated.

GenY

In the middle of the world’s shift to a hybrid work paradigm, GenY, or millennials, in the age bracket of 26 to 40, have their own set of issues to cope with. Experts believe that millennials are the ones who are struggling with work stress and a heavy workload. They work as executioners or in mid-level positions in most businesses. When you ask them about the problems of working in a hybrid world, they will immediately mention an unexpected rise in workload.

They also have duties to their families. Many employees in this generation of workers will have children between the ages of two and ten. So, they are dealing with the responsibility of their kids, office work and domestic commitments all at the same time.

Many of these already live with their elderly parents, who are likely to be retired. As a result of the second wave’s severity, many members of this generation have been forced to act as primary care givers for their elderly parents who have been impacted by COVID. In many situations, millennials have also taken over as the major breadwinners in their families.

Here is how they are learning to deal with this change:

Combat digital exhaustion:As we look to create a better future of work, addressing digital exhaustion has been a priority for this generation. They have ensured to work on themselves which they were less likely to do earlier. This gives individuals more self-assurance.

  • They side hustle to supplement their income or to pursue their interest
  • Physical exercise to remain fit and healthy
  • Make time for their hobbies
  • Work-Life balance: They are striving to balance their professional and personal life while dealing with a considerably increased workload. They have realized the need to establish and stick to boundaries. When you work in a hybrid work environment, it’s important to set start and end times to your workday. This helps maintain the boundary between work time and personal time—something that’s been hard for them.

In a hybrid work environment, it could be tricky to keep those boundaries intact, especially as you and your employer test the hybrid work waters. And hence it becomes more important to stick to these boundaries by:

  • Maintaining a to-do list to ensure that all work is completed, and nothing is left until the last minute. This ensures that they give time to their personal needs as well
  • Using tools to track their screen time, avoid social media sites while working so mainstream work as well as personal time effectively

GenZ

GenZ, or those born after 1995, is the newest of all the generations. Surprisingly, research indicates that this generation is the most challenged by the mixed work model! In the year 2020, GenZ entered the workforce for the first time. Most of them were recruited for their first job online and completed the entire onboarding process there. They haven’t seen their offices, workplaces, subordinates, or managers/team leaders and that has had a significant influence on them. They are missing out on the benefits of networking at work, hallway discussions, accidental meetings, and coffee chatter. However, a recent McKinsey & Company study on workers’ hopes for the future shows that 18-to-29-year-olds are most interested in a hybrid work set-up, working two to three days a week from home, and the rest in an office.

According to the research, GenZ is the most challenged in three areas:

  • Being able to bring fresh ideas to the table
  • Getting a word in during conference calls/meetings,
  • And finally feeling engaged or passionate about work.

Here is how they are learning to deal with the change:

  • Workcation : With the growing weight and monotony of working from home, as well as the ongoing concern and tension over job security, they are taking workcations and the change of scenery has done wonders for their productivity. Even the physical space afforded at work is a draw for GenZ, many of whom are cramped in apartments or shared spaces, where working might not be comfortable without the option for an at-home workspace. With the increasing burden and boredom of working from home and the consistent anxiety and stress around job security, they are willing to take workcations in the hills, a farmhouse or even move to the outskirts of a city for some time, to take a break from their home office and daily routine.
  • Virtual Social events : GenZ didn’t get a lot of face time with leaders who could give them valuable career insights. Further, they are less likely to pick up strong communication and professional skills, establish career goals, and build a network that they can rely on for years to come. Without hallway conversations, chance encounters, and small talk over coffee, it’s hard to feel connected even to my immediate team, much less build meaningful connections across the company. Hence organizing social events like virtual trivia nights, live stand-up comedy sets, cocktail crafting classes and scavenger hunts have helped them socialize with their peers.
  • Flexible Skill Development : GenZ still wants to learn, but the majority want to learn at their own pace, in their own way. At the same time, the majority states learning new skills as their top benefit of a hybrid work environment. They are now considering the flexible skill development options that make sense for them and provide them with as much autonomy as possible to pursue their own growth.

Despite all challenges, the fact is that people across generations have learnt to adapt to the new world of work. The real impact will be seen 12-18 months down the line when things open and a set of employees continue to work from home despite no restrictions or fear. New habits and behaviours will continue to emerge and solidify, shaping and formalizing this hybrid future. This time is an opportunity for employers and employees to create better work environments by embracing the positive aspects while minimizing the negative ones. This will help us define the future of hybrid work as something to look forward to rather than fear.

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