While the headlines carry the story that new hires are more likely to demand more location flexibility from their employers, Gen Z workers can actually save the physical workplace.
A new poll from the youth trend research firm Generation Lab reveals that 40% of college students and recent graduates prefer full office work, with 39% seeking hybrid positions and only 19% advocating full remote management.
It’s difficult to get an accurate reading of how younger generations feel about the remote work versus office debate, because data on Gen Z work is often contradictory. A similar survey from TenSpot, an employee engagement platform, reports that 30% of Gen Z employees want to work remotely full-time, as opposed to the 19% reported by Generation Lab. In the meantime, a study by SkyNova interviewing 1,000 employees revealed that 47% of Generation Z’ers are looking for a personal job.
The layoffs of workers have reached an alarmingly low level and leaders must take action.
While the numbers vary between polling platforms, a general trend is easy to spot: the number of Gen Zs seeking completely personal positions is overwhelmingly higher than other generations, especially their baby boomers. If we compare the generation just starting to work with the generation starting to leave, baby boomers are by far the most likely to have a pro-remote work ethic.
This may seem counterintuitive given that Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012, grew up during the rise of digital technology. Often referred to as “iPad kids,” this generation of digital natives is expected to be the most familiar with the online nature of working from home.
However, with the first members turning 25 in 2022, the oldest generation of Zers had only a few years of ‘regular’ work experience before they the start of the pandemic — and many have only experienced a hybrid or remote start to their careers. Without the introduction and reinforcement of the work standards that can be obtained by working in a physical office, Gen Zers reports a diminishing sense of community in the workplace, confusion about establishing mentorship, and a lack of career advancement opportunities.
A research by Axios shows that 66% of young respondents prefer personal feedback from their manager and 45% of respondents are concerned about maintaining a distraction-free workplace in a remote or hybrid future. As for the intermediate generations, more than half of Millennials and Gen Xers, who often juggle responsibilities like childcare and housekeeping, prefer a hybrid or fully remote work style. Again, in line with trends, Generation Zers are significantly more likely than Millennials and Generation Xers to favor a personal workplace, as reported by Edena workplace management platform.
So, what does this mean for employers trying to accommodate their newest employees? While it makes sense to assume that these digital natives would enjoy the nature of remote work, it’s clear that Gen Z craves human connection and sense of direction in the workplace† Requiring everyone to be fully in the office can be a dramatic request, but offering at least some of the physical workplace experience — whether it’s implementing hybrid work styles or making certain meetings and learning opportunities personal — is likely to become greeted with enthusiasm by twenty-somethings.
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