A recent essay published by the New York Times highlighted the various ways remote work is failing young employees. While this trend in telecommuting was born out of necessity in the midst of a global pandemic, it has been a blessing for some, and many hope to continue working from home indefinitely. Undoubtedly, this new normal has its perks, but there are also many drawbacks—especially in regard to Generation Z. Fresh out of college, this young cohort is just entering the workforce, and they are experiencing unprecedented challenges. To build a sustainable future, companies must invest in coaching and mentoring young employees as they navigate this tricky situation. Let’s discuss why remote work is hurting Gen Z employees and then work together to find a solution.
An Uncertain Future
Imagine starting your first day of work by opening a laptop in your living room. While platforms like Zoom and Google Meets have truly revolutionized the way we collaborate and communicate online, they cannot compare to interacting face-to-face in an office setting. After all, there is little room for socializing or bonding with fellow employees, including other new hires. The opportunity to learn on the job from other, more seasoned employees is also lacking in the virtual setting. As a result, navigating remote work has left many Gen Z individuals feeling isolated and insecure about their career path long-term. This month, a Forbes article on the advantages of remote work also looked at the other side of the coin, noting that “remote workers face many more obstacles when trying to climb the corporate ladder,” and that this is especially true for women and underrepresented groups.
The Age Divide
As digital natives, Gen Z members are hyper-connected and have an innate understanding of modern technology. It would be easy to assume such tech-savvy individuals would thrive in an online workspace, but multiple studies say that hasn’t been the case, according to Vox. One such study from Bucknell University found that “employees over the age of 40 were more likely to say they would prefer to continue working remotely, while employees younger than 40 were more likely to want to return to the office.” Microsoft’s Work Trend Index revealed that, instead of “thriving,” nearly 60 percent of Gen Z workers feel they are merely “surviving” while telecommuting. In a recent article on the many ways office work will never be the same post-pandemic, Vox notes that young people feel they are “missing out on the mentorship and soft skills they would have received working alongside older colleagues in the office, who can help them advance their careers.”
Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
For many Gen Z workers, having never set foot in an actual office, they are adrift and alone without a sense of company culture or the opportunity to interact with fellow colleagues. As many companies continue to embrace telecommuting or shift to a hybrid model, it is imperative that employers take note of the unique challenges and hazards of remote work for Gen Z employees. Redefining expectations and the ways we measure success is key. Remote workers are valuable members of a team, they are motivated and productive, and they want to grow within their place of employment, but some report feeling disregarded, being evaluated poorly for reasons beyond their control, or experience being overlooked for promotions. And sadly, when the lines are blurred between home and work, the risk of burnout increases, and in turn, retaining employees becomes more difficult. To continue to be successful into the future, companies must be committed to helping Gen Z employees thrive.
Looking Forward Lab, our multi-platform leadership development company, is here to help. We deliver innovative and interactive approaches to leadership development for Generation Z, and tools for those hiring and managing them, by offering:
- Content that is comprehensive and provides a host of tools
- A community to network with and learn from that meets each person where they are and supports their next step of learning
- Coaching that helps ensure accountability and a high level of performance
Join us in our effort at Looking Forward Lab to help Gen Z and the companies hiring them (let’s talk). And be sure to follow our blog and social media platforms! You can find us on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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, as well as Looking Forward Lab, which offers a full-service learning engagement model focused on Gen Z workplace development and support for their managers.