New survey highlights generational preferences for workplace dynamics

A Black man waves to his colleague on a video call from his office. High quality photo

Interesting to see the results of this new study by CV-writing service TopCV. It reveals that career-focused professionals find hybrid working enhances their productivity and wellbeing. However, the trend of socialising with colleagues outside the office is on the decline.

TopCV surveyed 1,000 UK professionals to understand generational preferences in the workplace and the impact of new working arrangements on coworker relationships.

Nearly half (49%) of the respondents prefer hybrid working, yet enthusiasm for after-hours socialising has diminished.

When asked about socialising outside of work, findings show a significant drop in the traditional post-work drinks.

  • Generation Z: 41% only socialise with colleagues at work-related events.
  • Baby Boomers: Over one-third (39%) rarely or never meet colleagues socially.
  • Silent Generation, Millennials, and Generation X: 35-37% occasionally engage in non-work social activities with colleagues.

Less socialising with colleagues outside work doesn’t mean less need for interactions at work

Despite this decline in socialising, professionals still value in-person interactions during work hours. Half of all respondents (50%) from all generations prefer face-to-face meetings for discussions and meetings.

The survey suggests remote work challenges relationship-building, with nearly one-third (31%) of Baby Boomers finding remote interactions less effective. Younger generations fare better, with 31% of Gen Z and 29% of Millennials finding remote relationship-building somewhat effective.

Generation Z and Millennials, having grown up with technology as an integral part of their lives, are more accustomed to building relationships virtually. Their familiarity with digital communication tools makes them adept at fostering connections online, even in professional settings.

Amanda Augustine, careers expert at TopCV, commented on the findings: “With more companies adopting remote and hybrid work, fewer professionals have access to informal in-person networking opportunities. Without mingling with colleagues, you may miss out on building meaningful connections and gaining insights into career opportunities. Lack of visibility can also hinder promotions or project assignments.”

Augustine’s tips for building effective relationships remotely:

  1. Schedule Virtual Coffee Chats: Regular virtual breaks or lunches with colleagues can simulate casual office interactions.
  2. Arrange One-to-One Video Calls: Personal video calls foster deeper conversations and help explore other departments.
  3. Organise Virtual Events: If your company doesn’t host virtual activities, consider starting a book club, watch party, or team-building event.
  4. Find Common Ground: Use shared interests or hobbies as conversation starters.
  5. Use Instant Messaging Wisely: Quick check-ins, sharing articles, or sending kudos can help, but remember to respect boundaries.
  6. Follow Up: After virtual interactions, a quick message or email can continue the conversation.
  7. Be Patient and Persistent: Building relationships, especially remotely, takes time and consistent effort.

“Even if in-person socialising isn’t feasible, there are ways to nurture solid workplace relationships that enhance job satisfaction and career growth,” says Augustine.

In one of our own articles from this year’s Watercooler Event, Michele Birtles, Director of People & Culture at Excel, addressed the question: “Do you really believe that building relationships needs that physical contact?” She affirmed, “Yes, we definitely think so.” Birtles emphasised the importance of employees feeling the excitement of being together, stating that face-to-face engagement is crucial for fostering company culture and staff engagement. She highlighted that in-person interactions reinforce shared goals, enhance collaboration, and provide valuable opportunities for employees to learn from each other in a dynamic, live environment.

In my opinion, physical contact can greatly enhance relationships; however, having worked remotely extensively, I believe that by following the advice suggested in this article, strong relationships can still be formed virtually. With remote work becoming more prominent, such guidance is crucial for the future success of organisations and the cultivation of a healthy workplace culture.

You might also like:

More news

Low angle portrait of diverse team of happy people huddling in corporate meeting
13 June 2024

4 mins read


Sign up to receive Make A Difference's fortnightly round up of features, news, reports, case studies, practical tools and more for employers who want to make a difference to work culture, mental health and wellbeing.