The Hidden Impact of Remote Work during the Pandemic

National study uncovers generational divide on leadership, trust and returning to the office

by Mike Hunter

Remote work in the time of the pandemic is having unexpected impacts across America — and different impacts for each generation. A recent, national study by global research firm The Center for Generational Kinetics reveals that trust, expectations of leaders and future employment expectations have been deeply affected in this time of remote work.

The discoveries from The 2020 Study on Leading Multiple Generations Remotely are both compelling and concerning: Most shockingly, a majority (53 percent) of Americans do not want to work remotely even part-time after the pandemic ends. Forty-two percent of Americans do not have the tools they need to successfully work remotely. And less than half of Americans (48 percent) believe their manager is acting with integrity during these tough times

Gen Z (born from 1996 thru 2015) is the generation whose work has been most impacted by the pandemic. More than any other generation, Gen Z’s work hours have decreased (45 percent), they have been furloughed (37 percent), the focus of their job has changed (32 percent), and their salary or wages have decreased (25 percent).

“The study reveals that the experience of remote work is uneven and rife with anxiety. More importantly, the study showed what leaders need to know and do now,” says Jason Dorsey, acclaimed generational speaker and president at CGK.

The top three things that Americans want from their managers right now: being honest and candid, communicating clearly, and being caring and empathetic. What they wanted least: showing strength and resilience. In short, candor and honesty trump bravado and bluster.

“Each generation is having a different experience during the pandemic. This is important to understand, as organizations must remotely lead four or five generations simultaneously. Gen Z’s emergence could herald in a new era of hybrid work that is normal to them and for the youngest members of Gen Z, all they’ve ever known,” says Denise Villa, Ph.D., CEO of CGK and author of the new book, Zconomy: How Gen Z Will Change the Future of Business—and What To Do About It.

Villa recommends organizations reinforce their guiding principles and mission in creative ways that connect with individual employees in a remote work world, offer communication options aligned with each generation’s primary preferences, and increase the frequency of information that is shared by leadership to keep employees engaged and aligned.

The bottom line, as revealed by the study: It’s important for organizations’ leaders to understand where each generation is coming from to best engage, support and get the most from their employees in novel ways during this critical time.  

Survey Results by Generation

Gen Z Millennials Gen X Baby Boomers
A majority (53 percent) of Americans do not want to work remotely even part-time after the pandemic ends. 54% 52% 54% 52%
Forty-seven percent of Americans say they’re working completely from home or remotely. 40% 50% 48% 43%
Forty-two percent of Americans do not have the tools they need to successfully work remotely. 52% 42% 35% 43%
Forty-nine percent of Americans have used Zoom or a video chat platform for the first time ever. 67% 60% 45% 33%
Less than half of Americans (48 percent) believe their manager is acting with integrity during these tough times. 42% 60% 56% 33%
Decrease of work hours has hit Gen Z strongest. 45% 35% 31% 41%
Gen Z has been hit hardest by furloughs. 37% 15% 11% 19%
Gen Z, more than other generations, has found the focus of their job changed. 32% 23% 22% 21%
Decrease in salary or wages has also hit Gen Z strongest. 25% 22% 22% 23%



The Center for Generational Kinetics is the leading generational research, keynote speaking, and strategic advisory firm focused on Gen Z, Millennials, and solving cross-generational challenges. CGK’s team helps leaders around the world solve challenges such as recruiting, retaining, and training Gen Z employees, and how to sell and market to each generation of customers.

The custom 2020 Study on Leading Multiple Generations Remotely was designed by CGK, administered to 1,000 U.S. respondents ages 18–90 and weighted to the current U.S. Census data for age, region, gender and ethnicity.

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