Learning how to communicate with people of other generations in the workplace is essential. We will explore the benefits of learning to connect with people of other generations in the remote workplace, the five generational categories and their tendencies, and strategies to connect with fellow remote workers representing varied generations.
Benefits of Cross-Generational Connections
In today’s remote workplaces, it’s increasingly common for employees to work in teams with people from different generations. To work effectively together, team members need to understand each other’s communication styles, preferences, and work habits.
Each generation brings unique skills, experiences, and perspectives to the workplace. By learning how to connect with people of other generations, you can tap into their knowledge and expertise and gain a more holistic understanding of your industry or field.
By demonstrating that you can work well with people from different generations, you can position yourself as a valuable team player and leader. This can help you advance your career and take on new challenges and opportunities.
Diversity and Inclusion
Connecting with people of other generations in the remote workplace can also help promote diversity, inclusion, and belonging. By fostering a culture of respect and collaboration, you can help create a more welcoming and supportive remote workplace for everyone.
The one thing that remote work requires…Innovation! By bringing together people from different generations with different perspectives and experiences, you can encourage innovation and creativity. This can lead to new ideas and approaches that benefit the organization and its employees.
The current generations in the workplace today have been classified by many researchers. You may identify with one or more generations. These are not provided to build rigid walls, but to help those of other generations to better relate. It’s important to note that these are broad generalizations, and not everyone in a particular generation will share the same characteristics.
Let’s learn more about each generation’s shared experiences, remote work style, and communication preferences. Recognizing these generational differences can help promote better communication and collaboration in the remote workplace.
Shared Experiences: Traditionalists grew up during the Great Depression and World War II. They value loyalty, respect, and authority. They tend to be hardworking and are often motivated by a sense of duty.
Remote Workplace Considerations: Traditionalists may have limited experience with remote work and technology. They may prefer in-person communication and have a preference for using traditional methods of communication, such as phone calls and face-to-face meetings.
Communication Strategies: Traditionalists may be less comfortable with technology, but they often use email and may use video conferencing for remote meetings. They may also prefer phone calls or in-person communication.
Shared Experiences: Baby Boomers grew up during the post-war economic boom and the civil rights movement. They value teamwork, personal gratification, and social change. They tend to be ambitious and are often motivated by the desire for success.
Remote Workplace Considerations: Baby Boomers have seen the rise of technology and remote work during their careers. They may appreciate the flexibility and convenience of remote work, but may prefer a more structured work environment. They are often skilled in using technology but may prefer traditional methods of communication, such as email.
Communication Strategies: Baby Boomers are generally comfortable with technology and often use email and video conferencing. They may also use social media and instant messaging for communication.
Shared Experiences: Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980): Generation X grew up during a time of economic and social upheaval, including the end of the Cold War and the rise of the internet. They value work-life balance, flexibility, and independence. They tend to be self-reliant and are often motivated by a desire for autonomy.
Remote Workplace Considerations: Generation X is generally comfortable with remote work and technology. They value work-life balance and flexibility, and may prefer remote work to a traditional office environment. They are adept at using technology for communication and collaboration.
Communication Strategies: Generation X is comfortable with technology and often uses it for communication, including email, video conferencing, instant messaging, and social media.
Shared Experiences: Millennials grew up during the digital age, with access to technology and the internet. This is the first generation that does not remember life before the internet! They value diversity, inclusion, and social responsibility. They tend to be collaborative and are often motivated by a sense of purpose.
Remote Workplace Considerations: Millennials are the first generation to grow up with technology and are highly comfortable with remote work. They value flexibility, independence, and work-life balance. They prefer using technology for communication.
Communication Strategies: Millennials are highly skilled in using technology and prefer to use it for communication and collaboration, including instant messaging, video conferencing, and social media.
Shared Experiences: Generation Z grew up in a world that has always been connected by technology and social media. They value authenticity, creativity, and innovation. They tend to be entrepreneurial and are often motivated by a desire to make a difference.
Remote Workplace Considerations:Since this generation was raised on technology and devices, they are highly comfortable with remote work and value work-life balance, independence, and flexibility. They prefer using technology for communication.
Communication Preferences: Generation Z has grown up with technology and is highly skilled in using it. They prefer to use instant messaging, video conferencing, and collaboration tools for communication and work.
Commit to Bridging Generational Differences
To connect with one another across generations in the remote workplace, it is crucial to understand and respect each generation’s preferences and communication styles. Remote workers and leaders can support this endeavor by making a commitment to the following behaviors:
- Be flexible: Be open to using different communication methods, depending on the preferences of the other person.
- Be patient: Understand that different generations may have different levels of comfort and experience with technology, and may need extra help or guidance.
- Share knowledge: Be willing to share your expertise and knowledge with others, and be open to learning from them as well. This can include sharing knowledge about a topic, learning or teaching a new technology skill, or listening to historical or fresh perspectives on various topics in the workplace.
- Be respectful: Avoid making assumptions or stereotypes based on someone’s age or generation. Treat everyone with respect and professionalism.
- Seek common ground: Focus on shared goals and interests, and find ways to work together collaboratively, using technology as a tool to facilitate communication and collaboration.
Practical Strategies in the Remote Workplace
What does it look like for remote workers or leaders to support the commitment to bridging generational differences in the every day remote work environment?
Offer training or resources to help employees who may be less familiar with new technologies. For example, provide training sessions or online tutorials that cover the basics of using common workplace tools. Recognize that some remote employees may need more time and assistance to become comfortable with new technologies. Be patient and supportive, and offer assistance as needed. Be available to answer questions and provide guidance on how to use new technologies. This can help reduce frustration and anxiety for employees who may be struggling to adapt.
Be aware that different generations may prefer different communication methods, and adjust your approach accordingly. For example, older employees may prefer phone calls or face-to-face meetings, while younger employees may prefer instant messaging or video conferencing. When possible, use channels the remote worker is comfortable with. However, if the organization requires specific channels of communication to be used in formal and informal situations, prepare remote workers for expected channels. If a specific tool (Email, IM, Chat, etc.) is preferred by the organization, provide time for employees unfamiliar with the technology to practice in a low-stakes, risk-free environment.
Encourage employees from different generations to mentor and learn from each other. This can help bridge the technology gap and promote collaboration and knowledge sharing.
By being aware of the different levels of comfort and experience that remote employees may have with technology, and offering assistance and guidance as needed, you can help create a more supportive and inclusive workplace where everyone feels valued, capable, and that they belong.
For more training on communicating effectively in the workplace, sign up for our Remote Professional Certification. In this certification track, you will learn more about factors that can enhance communication efforts for remote workers.
The following resources offer a deeper understanding of the characteristics and preferences of each generation in the workplace, and how to effectively manage and collaborate across generations.
- “The Baby Boomer & Traditionalist Workforce: Generational Differences & Tips” by Indeed,
- “A Guide to Working with Traditionalists” by Robert Half
- Baby Boomers
- “How Baby Boomers Approach Work and Retirement” by The Balance Careers
- “How to Work with Baby Boomers: Tips for the Multigenerational Workplace” by Robert Half
- Generation X
- “How Generation X Works” by HowStuffWorks
- “5 Ways to Work Better Across Generations” by Harvard Business Review
- “Understanding Millennials in the Workplace” by Forbes
- “7 Tips for Managing Millennials in the Workplace” by The Balance Careers
- Generation Z
- “Who is Generation Z?” by The New York Times
- “The Rise of Generation Z: What Employers Need to Know” by Forbes