New Research Reveals Remote Working Has Changed the Millennial Forever

Published: 24 Aug 2020

Lockdown has changed the way millennials work, as new research from Trinity Business School reveals how the pandemic has created a new state of working that makes resumption challenging for organisations.

Semi-structured interviews with a sample of millennials were used to explain how sensemaking tactics mediate the relationship between transactional distancing and work performance. “While millennials are a tech savvy generation with a preference for communicating digitally, prolonged, remote work was a new experience. However, millennials applied three sensemaking tactics, socialization, enactment, and identity construction to creatively reauthor the situation for confronting ambiguity and adapting to their new, remote working environment. Indeed this reauthoring process was found to mirror Lewin’s organisational change model, that is unfreeze, change, refreeze. As a result, millennials not only adjusted to social distancing measures but discovered new efficiencies for managing work performance that will be challenging to undo.

The creation of this new normal poses important implications for organizations as they consider exiting an unprecedented era of social distancing,” says Christine Zdelar and Michelle MacMahon. Resumption should not mean ‘returning to work’ but continue ‘with’ some time in the office. Alternatively, any disruption to this new normal will require organisations to carefully consider their change management strategies.

Given that millennials view technology as a functional necessity, not a modern convenience, perhaps we can learn a great deal from this category of worker and their ability to make sense of our new reality – a socially distanced world.

Zdelar, C., & MacMahon, M. (2020). How Millennials Made Sense of Transactional Distancing to Maintain Work Performance: A Covid-19 Investigation. OB Division Research Plenary: COVID-19 and Organizational Behavior, Annual Academy of Management Meeting, Virtual, August 2020. Conference Paper.

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