As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world, national, state, and local governments put in place measures to limit the extent to which people come into close contact with others in an effort to slow the spread.
For many businesses, this meant it was wise or even required to close the office; but closing the office doesn’t mean the work has to stop. Millions of Americans have had their first taste of long-term remote work as a result of COVID-19.
Working Remotely a Major Perk for Some—But Not All
For many workers, being able to work remotely is one of the top perks a job could offer, and the idea of working in one’s pajamas or from exotic locations around the world or simply avoiding a long, stressful commute to and from the office is highly valued. But that’s not necessarily a universal feeling, and it’s important for employers to understand how younger generations—who are steadily becoming the dominant segment of the workforce—feel about the subject.
Many companies have already made major decisions with respect to the future of their offices, with 27 of the world’s top companies having declared their employees can work from home indefinitely.
Gen Z Perspectives on Remote Work
New data from Tallo indicate that more than half of today’s college students are willing to accept a virtual role. In addition, 86% are confident they can be just as productive working remotely.
Still, according to Tallo, companies “need to recognize that this generation is still fiercely loyal and a permanent work-from-home situation may not be up their alley for the indefinite future.” Here are some key findings from Tallo’s research:
- 75% of Gen Z would like to come together with colleagues weekly.
- 74% of Gen Z value informal in-office networking opportunities.
- 45% of Gen Z feel less face time could hinder their career progression.
- Only 3% of Gen Z feel face-to-face time with colleagues is unnecessary.
The situation may not be as concerning as it initially appears, though.
Time Will Tell
There are a couple of things to keep in perspective when reviewing these data. First, Gen Z has barely started entering the workforce. The oldest members are turning 24 in 2021. It’s certainly possible that remote work will become increasingly attractive to this cohort after they spend more and more time working in a traditional office setting.
Second, remote work is not an all-or-nothing proposition. It’s possible to allow remote work for those who want it while letting others come into the office or to require all staff to spend at least some time in the office but have options for where they can work the rest of the time.
The key element companies need to embrace is flexibility. Moving forward, it will be essential to keep an ear to the ground to understand what the next big cohort of the workplace values and looks for in an employer.