After more than a year of working remotely due to the pandemic, some Canadians are more eager than others to return to the office.

A survey conducted by Angus Reid on behalf of ADP Canada found remote work has affected each generation quite differently.

During the pandemic, 44 per cent of Canadians reported working longer hours than they did pre-pandemic but 31 per cent of Gen Z workers aged under 25 years old have been the least likely to clock in extra time from home (31 per cent). 

Thirty-six per cent of Gen Z remote workers surveyed also said they are excited to return to the physical office followed by 34 per cent of Millennials (aged 26 to 40) who said the same.

However, excitement seems to drop off among older demographics with only 29 per cent of Gen X (aged 41 to 55) and 26 per cent of Baby Boomers (over 56) said they are looking forward to returning to their offices.

When compared to respondents from other generations, 34 per cent of Gen Z workers were also more likely to note incentives offered by employers to encourage them to come back to the workplace. These include transit subsidies, a flexible schedule, free parking, and additional compensation.

Despite hours and sentiments around returning to work differing for each group, they all seemed to agree on one topic – stress levels.

Four-in-ten respondents across all ages found an increase in their stress levels because of the pandemic.  

"This data clearly demonstrates each generation experiences remote work differently. While stress is a common thread, younger employees show more interest in returning to the office, suggesting that they likely value face-to-face interaction and may even believe working remotely may hinder their career development, while others, in more established roles, may be thriving with remote work,” said Megha Makam, senior human resources business advisor at ADP Canada.

"It's important to identify these generational differences and open the conversation with each employee's experience when developing supportive programs or initiatives."

Many Canadian organizations did introduce new initiatives throughout the pandemic such as modified schedules appearing to be the most commonly noted to those of all ages.

Baby Boomer remote workers were more likely to say their employers let them work a modified schedule to take care of personal matters followed closely by 72 per cent of Gen X and Millennial workers who agreed.

Mental health support was also widely recognized among Millennials and Gen X remote workers with close to 48 per cent of both groups saying their employers introduced programs in this area during COVID.

However, Gen Z remote workers did not share this sentiment with 65 per cent reporting their workplace did not introduce such initiatives during the pandemic or they were not aware of them if they did.

"So much has changed in the past year – including the way we work and the way we interact with each other," added Makam. "The survey findings support a call to action for employers to adjust how we communicate with and support each generation of the workforce. A blanket approach simply does not work when it comes to navigating remote work."