While people around the world are returning to their lives, returning to the movie theaters, restaurants, conferences, and travel, they are not excited about going back to the office, especially Gen Z. That's right, Gen Z employees don't want to return to the office.
Even though most people prefer working from home, many business leaders say that it's time to get back to the office; if not full time, then 2 to 3 days per week. And in many cases, employers are mandating return to office.
In the recent study by Ivanti, 87% of workers indicated they do not want to return to the office full-time, 45% of those workers don't want to return to the office at all, and 42% indicated that they prefer a hybrid model that splits time between home and office.
Resistance to returning to the office is even stronger among Gen Z employees. Gen Z loves the flexibility of working remotely. More than 70% of 18–24-year old's said they would consider looking for another job if their company insisted on them returning to the office. Younger employees do not see the benefits of going back into the office. They need to be enlightened!
So what is the future of remote work for Gen Z? This post gives 7 ways Gen Z can benefit from returning to the office.
Getting Back to the Office Helps Gen Z Grow their Career - Preventing Proximity Bias
These days it seems like no one wants to go back to the office. But, If you are young (Gen Z and younger Millennials) and ambitious, it's time to get back to the office!
Your career path is a function of proximity, known as proximity bias. Workplace proximity bias is now used to describe employee bias towards people working remotely. This bias could limit remote workers' promotions and career opportunities.
Proximity bias is that employees with close physical proximity to their team and company leaders will be perceived as better workers and ultimately find more success in the workplace than their remote counterparts.
Essentially, you're more likely to think of the people you interact with regularly than those you see less often.
According to Invention Capital Associates co-founder, Dr. Chris Donegan, "In larger businesses, there are many good people and fewer promotions than candidates. Regarding promotion meetings, the people deciding need to have an opinion on you. If they don't know you, it's hard to form one."
Donegan continues, "I've sat in meetings when a name comes up, and everyone looks at the performance reviews. Then someone asks, 'what does everyone think of this person?' If the answer is 'I don't have a strong opinion,' the conversation switches to the candidates that people have a strong opinion on."
Remote and even hybrid employees may feel their career growth falls compared to their "in-office" peers simply because they are less visible.
Return to the Office Enhances Gen Z's Mental Wellness
Mental health awareness has increased since the onset of the pandemic. Remote working left many younger workers feeling isolated, lonely, and overworked. The truth is not going back to the office can negatively impact one's mental wellness.
New data from Sapien Labs' Mental Health Million Project, which surveyed 48,000 young adults age 18–24 across 34 nations, reveals that mental health struggles among Gen Z have accelerated and worsened throughout the pandemic's second year and that their ability to relate to and interact with others has been seriously impaired.
Getting back to working in the office and seeing people face-to-face encourages connections, communication, and collaboration. Humans are social creatures, and work is a social activity.
In addition, working at the office helps set boundaries separating the work environment from the home environment. The commute helps create boundaries and encourages more work/life balance.
Getting back to the office won't be the only solution to helping Gen Z's mental wellness. Today organizations across the country are developing new programs and policies that support employee mental health by creating an inclusive, welcoming, and belonging culture. As Gen Z becomes a more significant part of the workforce, they've clarified that they expect their employers to respect their well-being.
Getting Back to the Office Grows Relationships and Your Success
I'm sure you heard the old saying that it takes a village to raise a child. The same holds if you are in the initial stages of your career. You must build relationships with a "village of people" while growing your career.
While working from home, Gen Z is missing out on workplace socialization and the opportunity to make critical contacts and build relationships that you make face-to-face. We've all been working from our home office cocoons, and now it's time to break out and be with people.
Returning to the office isn't just to make bosses happy. Going back to the office is about each of us connecting, contributing, and being together with our colleagues.
It gives us the feeling of belonging and being connected to something bigger than ourselves. It's about mentorships and career development opportunities. It's about sharing our talents while we build relationships.
And while we're on relationships, here's an added relationship bonus. If you are single, you may find your life partner at work. A study compiled by eHarmony discovered that younger workers might get more out of the social component of offices; nearly 25% of Americans meet their spouses at work.
Returning to the Office Will Raise Your Social Learning
Social learning is a term used when a person learns by watching and listening to the people around them. Social learning helps us understand how to behave around others. Because humans are social beings, seeing others' successes and mistakes helps us make better choices.
Onsite employees have more opportunities to learn from seeing their teammates and leaders interact, create and problem-solve. When you work face to face, you watch how your co-workers interact with each other, their managers, and clients. This is a form of informal learning and an authentic learning experience.
Onsite employees have more opportunities to learn from seeing their managers interact, solve problems, and understand expectations better. They will hear office chatter and get a better sense of the company's culture. They will see and hear what skills the organization values and the direction the company is heading.
Getting Dressed for Work Grows Your Confidence
One of the biggest perks of working from home is wearing whatever, or at least whatever on the bottom. We all have thrown on a blazer or white blouse and cardigan to look professional for Zoom calls.
Heading back to the office will require you to put on slacks or dress, blow dry your hair, and wear "real shoes."
It's time to get out of your LuLu's and get dressed!
Understand your workplace culture and dress accordingly. The level of formality and professionalism varies in each work environment.
Presenting a positive representation of yourself is key to work success. Studies show that clothing affects how other people perceive us and how we think about ourselves.
But here's the thing about dressing up and looking good for work, not only does it leave a good impression on you, it also helps boost your self-esteem and confidence. And, who doesn't need a boost every now and then?
Returning to Work Will Give You More Space and Better Tools
Many homes and living spaces are just not big enough to set up an entire office. Going back to the office helps all generations, especially Gen Z, spread out, and work more comfortably with more space, great wifi, office supplies, and possibly office amenities, such as free food and company fitness centers.
One study from Microsoft found that 42% of employees don't have essential office supplies at home. Furthermore, 46% said their employers don't help with remote work expenses.
In addition, more than half of Gen Z workers also said they felt unproductive and unmotivated working from home. As a result, they feel bored, struggle to sleep, and can't focus for long periods of time.
Returning to Work Will Make You More Connected to the Company Culture
Gallop defines an organization as "how we do things around here." Culture is a unique way that your organization lives out its purpose and shares why it exists. Culture is about the shared experience for employees that reflects the organization's core values, mission, and behaviors.
By bringing people back into the office, all employees experience the culture/environment on a day-to-day basis. The touch-points, messaging, values, and behaviors tell each employee who and what the organization represents.
Physical proximity and uniting in a shared space bring teams a sense of deepened belonging and connectedness that is missing when working remotely. When working onsite, it's easier to see how contributions and collaboration impact the organization and customers.
Being together in person strengthens "how we do things around here … as a team" and helps employees feel like they're part of something important.
While it's not surprising that many people have grown accustom to working from home and prefer not to work in an office, the future of remote work is uncertain as there are many benefits to working in an office setting that simply cannot be denied. And let's face it, many employers are mandating return to office.
When you are in "the office", you have the opportunity to connect with other workers and have meaningful interactions that help boost your social and professional development.
You will have a greater opportunity to grow professionally by collaborating face-to-face with your colleagues and engaging in conversations that center on team-building, leadership, and professional development.