A quarter (24 per cent) of Canadian generation Z workers say their verbal skills have worsened due to virtual learning or working during the coronavirus pandemic, compared to only five per cent of baby boomers, according to a new survey by language learning platform Preply Inc.

The survey, which polled more than 1,500 Canadians, found 92 per cent of gen-Zers have experienced remote work or study, and more than half said their social skills have declined due to limited in-person interactions during remote studying and working.

Gen Z respondents cited several challenges linked to hybrid working, including struggling to stay engaged during virtual meetings (23 per cent), missing the ability to interpret body language and facial expressions (20 per cent) and difficulty maintaining clear communication in a remote setting (12 per cent).

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More than a quarter (26 per cent) of gen-Zers said they felt disconnected or isolated while studying and working remotely and 20 per cent said they feel less confident speaking or presenting in person compared to virtually. Nearly a third of gen Z workers said they received no training from their current employer to improve their communication skills while working remotely.

However, 57 per cent of gen Z Canadians noticed an improvement in their written skills due to remote work or studying, compared to only seven per cent of baby boomers. In addition, 27 per cent of gen-Zers have become more efficient in communicating through technology and 15 per cent said it has become easier for them to read non-verbal cues in virtual interactions.

“The shift to remote work due to the pandemic has led to a significant reduction in face-to-face social interactions, which we’ve seen has affected how comfortable and capable people feel when communicating in person,” said Sylvia Johnson, head of methodology at Preply, in a press release. “Whilst employers can help by supporting workers, there are steps individuals can take to build their confidence and communication skills proactively.”

Read: Survey finds generational divide in impact of remote work on work-life balance