Miro Introduces “The Ways We Work” Survey to Help Us All Understand How to Build a More Human Approach to Work

The company surveyed more than 2,000 knowledge workers about the state of modern work, and offers insights for building better working models that won’t leave anyone behind

Miro, the online platform accelerating innovation through visual collaboration, today released the results from its recent survey focusing on the state of knowledge workers’ connections to work. “The Ways We Work” survey shines a light on different generations’ expectations of work – understanding their unique life and career experiences can help organizational leaders design a better future of work for everyone. The data shows a growing alignment between Gen Z and Baby Boomers, and digs deeper into the sources of their similarities. The research also suggests that Gen X – a generation defined by its independence and self-reliance – may be struggling in the new work order.

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“The Ways We Work” reveals surprising similarities between Gen Z and Baby Boomers, whose priorities at work are often in opposition to Millennials and Gen X.

  • Gen Z and Baby Boomers are in it for the people, while Millennials and Gen X want to do their own thing. Gen Z and Baby Boomers say being connected to coworkers is the top reason they plan to stay at their job for at least the next year: among workers unlikely to leave their jobs, 30% of Gen Z and 20% of Baby Boomers attribute it to feeling these connections, versus only 15% of Millennials and 13% of Gen X.
  • Both are also looking to be challenged on the job: nearly half of Gen Z (42%) and more than one-third of boomers (37%) report their relationships with managers have improved because they are encouraged to grow and develop professionally. This indicates a shared commitment to a growth mindset, just at very different stages of their careers.
  • In contrast, Millennials (40%) and Gen X (47%) are most likely to list respect for work-life balance as the reason for improved relationships with managers. They are at a life stage where most are juggling multiple competing responsibilities, where work is only one piece of the puzzle – long nights pursuing stretch goals just might not be the priority.
  • When it comes to those big career dreams, the dream is different depending on life stage: 25% of Gen X and 24% of Millennials say a salary drop would be the top deal breaker for accepting a dream job. For Gen Z and Baby Boomers, freedom to live where they want beats the almighty dollar: relocation is the top deal breaker for these workers, with 19% of Gen Z and 23% of Baby Boomers prepared to decline their dream role if it required a move.

Gen Z and Baby Boomers are also more likely than Millennials and Gen X to leverage casual instant messaging to nurture their relationships at work, contradicting the stereotype that Boomers aren’t comfortable with new ways of communicating. Gen Z, in particular, is more likely to report improved relationships with leadership now than before the pandemic. In contrast, the data suggest that Gen X is struggling to maintain ties – and might need some attention and support.

  • 50% of Gen Z workers say their relationships with company leadership have improved, compared to only 36% of Gen X.
  • 48% of Gen Z, 42% of Millennials, and 40% of Baby Boomers report improved relationships with their direct managers, versus 38% of Gen X workers.
  • Gen X is less likely than all other generations to report improved relationships with their company overall or with colleagues on other teams.

“The ‘flat’ structure introduced by the pandemic — everyone connecting virtually vs. a more in-office hierarchical structure — along with executives prioritizing new channels and a higher frequency of communication helped to equalize access to leadership,” said Paul D’Arcy, Miro’s Chief Marketing Officer. “As a result, this younger generation has had the chance to build deeper connections with managers and leaders earlier in their careers, giving them a sense of greater understanding and visibility within the organization. This is definitely a positive development coming out of the pandemic that organizations should continue to promote, while also investigating how to re-engage their disconnected Gen X workers.”

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Nearly 90% of knowledge workers do not want to go to the office full time, but that doesn’t mean they’re done with it altogether: a majority (56%) say a hybrid work arrangement is ideal, but most hybrid workers still view going into the office as a necessary compromise. They’re willing to show up, but for a price. One respondent shared, “[I] would need a 100% salary increase to go into the office more than twice a week.”
  • Hybrid workers are less likely to report improved relationships with their company (32% compared to 41% onsite and 39% remote) or with colleagues on other teams (33% of hybrid versus 40% for both remote and hybrid workers), suggesting that current approaches to hybrid work fall short of their promises to bring people together, a red flag amidst rising rates of burnout and loneliness.

So what do hybrid workers need? Thoughtful opportunities to nurture relationships are a starting point.

  • Twenty-nine percent of hybrid workers say collaboration at work is the best way to build connections with colleagues, compared to 18% working onsite.
  • In fact, collaborating has replaced casual conversations for all knowledge workers (onsite, hybrid, and remote) as their go-to for bonding on the job: pre-pandemic only 18% say they relied on collaboration for building relationships, but the number has jumped to 24%.

“Hybrid can be the best of both worlds, but only if leaders work strategically and intentionally to make it more human,” concluded D’Arcy. “In the face of fatigue and burnout, the social side of work — that is to say, our relationships with colleagues, managers, and leaders — can help keep people engaged and happy. As we design our modern working models for durability, ‘The Ways We Work’ survey highlights the importance of including employees in the planning. Together, we can strike the right balance between flexibility and autonomy, as well as moments of deep connection and engaging collaboration, thus creating a human-centric work culture that works for everyone.”

Survey Methodology: Findings reflect data gathered by an interactive online survey of 2,053 full-time knowledge workers in North America, conducted from August 17 to September 16, 2022. Respondents were split evenly across work environments (hybrid, remote, and onsite), with an emphasis to include representation across four generations of workers (Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers). Respondents represented a variety of roles and career levels (independent contributor, team lead/manager, director, and vice president or above). Survey results are available here.

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