Remote Work and a Return to the Office

Thanks to the recent rise in hybrid and remote work, some companies are embracing these options or rethinking the office space to meet the needs and wants of their employees. Others are experiencing a backlash for resisting change and demanding a rigid return to pre-pandemic policies. The reported rise of quiet quitting and a steady drop in engagement since 2020, especially with workers under the age of 35, is probably on the minds of many employers who worry about retention rates and attracting fresh talent amidst these issues. 

Offering valuable insight, LinkedIn reports that Gen Z “is the least likely among all the generations in the workforce to apply for remote roles — and their interest has been slowing since this time last year.” In fact, 72% of Gen Z prefer face-to-face communication and connection. However, while a return to the in-person workplace may seem like a logical step for young employees and those that are hiring them, not everyone is on board.

Protests and Backlash

In a June 13, 2023 article titled, “First It Was Quiet Quitting, Now Workers Are Facing Off With Their Bosses,” The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) stated that “there is a growing share of the workforce that is disengaged, or resentful that their needs aren’t being met. In some cases, these workers are disgruntled over low pay and long hours, or they have lost trust in their employers.” As “bosses fret about worker productivity and loyalty,” some have attempted a forced return to the office.

Per WSJ, “Many employees see shifts away from flexible schedules and remote work options as a signal that executives don’t trust them to do their jobs outside of the office. Others say benefits to remote work they experienced during the pandemic, including more time with family and cutting back commutes, are now critical to their happiness.” As a result, some employers are now seeing a backlash from workers.

Conflicting Opinions

On October 3, 2023, Insider reported that members of Gen Z “are more concerned by getting better at their actual jobs than they are with improving the office soft skills their bosses say they lack.” Citing Adobe’s recent Future Workforce Study, which surveyed over 1,000 Gen Z workers in the US, “70% of Gen Z are eager to climb up the corporate ladder to the C-suite and grow in terms of their impact in the workplace.” This includes “amping up their technical prowess.”

However, according to Insider, major companies like Deloitte and KPMG “have been raising concerns about Gen Z’s lack of workplace etiquette,” as well as deficiencies in other soft skills, such as teamwork, collaboration, and interpersonal communication. In May, the Financial Times noted “this is often linked to the fact that most Gen Z workers had to study and work remotely.” As such, they could benefit from a return to the office, as well as training in professional development and building the skills necessary for career success.

Looking Forward Lab is a learning and development company designed to serve as the “go to” hub for innovative workforce and professional development solutions for Gen Z, the institutions educating/training them, and hiring managers welcoming them into their early career workplaces. To learn more, click here, or contact us today.

Tammy Dowley-Blackman Group, LLC is a certified National Supplier Development Council Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Small Business Administration (SBA) Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB), and Women’s Business Enterprise Network Council (WBENC) woman-owned company. The company is comprised of a suite of brands, including TDB Group Strategic Advisory, a management consulting firm; Looking Forward Lab, a learning and development company focused on Gen Z, which partners with corporations and higher education systems to offer a full-service learning engagement model that delivers workforce development solutions; and Cooper + Lowe, an incubator for women interested in transitioning to entrepreneurship and thought leadership using the tools of a company that has successfully scaled.

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