The New Norm: Generational Differences — Adjusting to a Virtual Work Environment


As we’ve learned in Parts I (Defining the Times) and II (Who We Aren’t) of this series, varying generational characteristics, tendencies and misconceptions often result in workplace tensions among team members, particularly during stressful situations when swift changes must be made. Today, both individuals and organizations are struggling to cope with new and unfamiliar work environments where tensions threaten to destroy employee morale, hinder productivity and curb success. Together, we can overcome this.


Employees value work environments which enable the open and equal sharing of ideas and information. In response to changes that have recently occurred due to COVID-19, managers and organizations must set realistic expectations and allow ample time for adaptation to new remote work environments. As a manager, take a moment to ensure that everyone is:

  • Working toward the same overarching goals

  • Adjusting for the greater good of the organization

  • Given sufficient time in which to make the adjustment

Once a feeling of “safety” has been achieved, tensions will gradually dissipate. Working in a tension-free zone increases productivity, optimism and self-motivation, and enables employees to recognize the strengths of individuals from outside generations. Employees who feel safe will be more inclined to ask for help from others and, in turn, feel more comfortable communicating via technology like virtual meetings, which have only recently become essential.


One should not assume that the transition from in-person to virtual work will be smooth for everyone. Several will struggle with technology. Others will be hard pressed to believe that working from home could ever lead to positive results. Hold seminars and training sessions meant to educate employees and managers of all generations on how best to work together from afar.