The shift to remote work is pushing the youngest generations of workers to the brink.

That’s because the vast majority are concerned about the long-term implications of telecommuting on their mental health because of the lack of connection with colleagues, according to a survey by Chargifi.

More than 18 months after the pandemic-induced move to remote work, Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2012) and millennials (born between 1994 and 2000) feel disproportionately isolated and have trouble building and developing relationships at work, the survey of 2,000 U.S. and U.K. office workers aged 18-34 revealed.

Since working from home, 71 percent said they feel their co-workers are more distant and 54 percent said the extended working-from-home period forced relationships to drift. About two-thirds said that remote work has made it harder to make friends or maintain relations with colleagues.

Full-time remote work will only continue to exacerbate the social disconnect for younger workers, which will result in a decline in productivity, higher work dissatisfaction and more difficulty in focusing, the study said.

‘A recipe for loneliness’

“While it’s important not to stereotype based on age, older workers usually have more years of affirmation from colleagues they can draw upon in remote and hybrid settings, while younger, potentially less experienced workers are in many cases still building up a repository of ‘am I good enough,”’ Jonathan Taylor, managing psychologist at workplace psychology consulting firm Pearn Kandola, was cited as saying in the report.

The younger generation of workers feels so strongly about the need for socialization that they rank socializing as one of the most attractive benefits an organization can offer.

More than a quarter of respondents (29 percent) said social events were among the top benefits, followed by a good salary (44 percent), modern office environment (40 percent), well-being support (40 percent) and career growth and training opportunities (38 percent).

In contrast, older workers favored salary (58 percent), generous vacation time (51 percent), flexibility (50 percent) and an enhanced pension (43 percent), the survey found.

“One hundred percent remote working might be convenient for some, but for others it’s a recipe for loneliness — and younger workers have been disproportionately affected,” Chargifi CEO Dan Bladen said in the report. “They’re missing out on the benefits of being surrounded by more experienced colleagues and the informal learning and mentoring that comes with this.”

A hybrid workplace option would be beneficial for all staff members in dealing with the solitude of remote work, as  81 percent of younger employees and 64 percent of those over the age of 35 worry that less time in office will increase loneliness, the survey found.

Chargifi is a software company focused on desk and room management to assist in transforming the workplace to a hybrid model.

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