The world of work is a constantly changing landscape, rapidly adapting to the needs and wants of not only employers, but also the generation of those they employ.

The changes of the last two years have brought about perhaps the most notable shift, with remote and hybrid working becoming the norm for many former office-based roles, but what challenges and opportunities does this present to early career professionals and those starting new roles?

Cappfinity were joined by digital wellbeing consultant, Alex La Via, Founder of Live More Offline for a recent breakfast seminar to discuss why digital wellbeing needs to be at the heart of people and hybrid strategy, particularly in the context of young people and new hires. This blog sets out some of the key points from the session.

Alex explained some of the challenges to this new way of working through the lens of her personal experience as a former Corporate Accountant in FTSE 250 head offices, her academic research with the University of Aberdeen and working with organisations as a digital wellbeing consultant.

Despite the many benefits of digital technology, being able to unplug from the always on working day is the top challenge for remote working professionals, according to Buffer’s 2021 State of Remote Work Survey. The next challenges were difficulties with collaboration and communication and struggles with loneliness whilst working remotely. Alex explained that digital habits feed into all these challenges.

Further, the Great Resignation is being fuelled by employees who are digitally disengaged from their companies because they don’t feel socially connected in a digital working environment.

Who is most impacted and why?

Recent research from Adobe suggests that Generation Z are most affected by the demands of virtual work, with 57% of this age group reporting that they feel pressured to be reachable at all times of the day, versus 39% of the Boomer Generation.  This is perhaps why 56% of Generation Z and 49% of Millennials are likely to want to switch jobs in the next year, when compared to just 18% of the Boomer Generation.

Employees who have a healthy hybrid working relationship, where digital does not take over every aspect of life are able to thrive at work, whilst employees with a bad or imbalanced hybrid working relationship will be surviving or struggling.  Those at the start of their careers are most impacted by this, with 60% of Generation Z and 64% of new employees surviving or struggling with digital remote working.  Therefore, helping employees to form healthy digital habits will be key for retention and attraction in 2022 and beyond.

Generation Z place more importance on organisations’ approaches to mental health than any other generation and are looking to see an intentional response from their employers.

What are the opportunities?

Despite the challenges, digital culture can also be a great opportunity for many companies if they are willing to be intentional about designing a healthy and effective approach to digital working.  Dropbox is a good example of a company that have fully embraced digital culture and made it work for them.

They have layered many small intentional changes, for instance to collaboration time and meetings, where the company set four-hour windows for collaborative interactions.  That way employees would not be constantly interrupted whilst focusing on a project, because the hours to collaborate were always set aside and time was not lost needing to disengage and then re-focus on their original task.

Whilst collaborating, Dropbox asked their employees to focus on ‘the three D’s.’  These being to discuss, debate and decide.  If they were not following this pattern, then there was probably no need for a meeting.  This has helped to create a healthy digital culture to enhance wellbeing, performance and the value of human connection.

Find out more about how your organisation can address the challenges of remote working to avoid digital disengagement in Part 2 of this session overview.