Is Gen Z Struggling To Return To The Office?

With the incorporation of remote work as a workplace norm, several businesses and employees have experienced countless benefits that a remote-based work environment entails. This is even more applicable for the Gen Z workforce. According to a survey, over 85% of managers believe that having remote workers will become the new normal for many teams. Remote workers are able to attain a better work-life balance, workplace flexibility, better well-being and an increase in satisfaction. From a business’ standpoint, the implementation of a remote workforce calls for a reduction in office expenses, provides the business with a competitive edge in the jobseeker market, have access to a wider and diverse candidate market and have seen an increase in employee productivity up to 77%. 

The success of a remote-based workplace has even paved the way for the gig economy to thrive. Currently, about 36% of US workers are taking part in the gig economy. The growth of the gig economy has experts believe that in 2027, more than 50% of the US workforce will participate as a gig worker, freelancer or contract worker. 

Gen Z Stepping Foot In Offices

Despite the benefits and rapid growth of remote work, several members of Generation Z in the workforce have not set foot in an office and are experiencing major drawbacks to their wellbeing and career development. Members of Gen Z have been feeling unmoored and anxious which could potentially cause a detrimental effect to their careers in the long run. 

Gen Z Working Face-To-Face

Gen Z workers lack the face-to-face interactions they would normally get from working in-person; with regular workplace interactions being replaced with zoom calls and email chains, long gone are company Friday night get-togethers and workplace traditions. The absence of face-to-face office interactions results in Gen Z workers unable to perform at their highest capacity as they have a harder time meeting work expectations, catching up with deadlines and lack the crucial leadership guidance which leads them to fall behind. The outcome of the situation Gen Z workers face implies a low self-esteem, guilt and anxiety. To add on, members of Gen Z working remotely miss the opportunity to interact with other colleagues in order to build their professional network. 

Gen Z Working Remote

Working remotely also results in an increased feeling of loneliness and anxiousness. In Q2 of 2020, those who worked from home exclusively reported higher loneliness at 23% through the start of 2021. Beyond working remotely, the feeling of loneliness and anxiousness is more apparent with members of Gen Z as they are accustomed to spending time in front of screens. According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, 70% of Generation Z members across all diverse backgrounds state anxiety and depression are both crucial problems among those in their generation. 

Gen Z’s Career Crisis

Another issue Gen Z workers encounter with remote work is facing a career crisis where they have less work experience and power in the workplace. This leads them to feeling out of the loop and unable to determine if they are on the right track. Emails and zoom meetings can only depict so much, without knowing how their bosses and supervisors truly feel, they may be more vulnerable to imposter syndrome; where they doubt their abilities to perform and provide meaningful work. In addition, the inability to form a strong connection with their coworkers and supervisors leads to Gen z workers being more susceptible to misunderstanding situations and having bad feelings at work. 

Flexibility For Gen Z’s Work Style

In light of the situation, a more applicable strategy would be providing employees with the flexibility to either work remotely or come in-person. This will allow employees and Gen Z workers to attain the comfort of a work-life balance and workplace flexibility while still having the interpersonal connection in office. Companies such as Apple and Microsoft have implemented this strategy through a hybrid workplace model where employees come into the office half the work week and spend the other half working from home.

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