Love it or dislike it, Gen Zers are driving the push to work in the office

Smiling woman working on laptop

Image: Getty / Morsa Images

Despite media headlines that first-time workers are more likely to ask for increased position flexibility from their employers, Generation Z employees are can really save the actual workplace.

One new vote from youth trends research firm Generation Lab revealed that 40% of college students and recent graduates prefer office work entirely, with 39% looking for combined positions and only 19% identifying receive policies completely remotely.

It’s hard to get an accurate picture of how millennials feel about remote work versus arguing in the office, as Generation Z work-related data is often conflicting. One similar survey by TenSpot, a workforce engagement platform, reports that 30% of Generation Z workers want to work remotely full-time, as opposed to 19% reported by Generation Lab. Meanwhile, a study by SkyNova Interviewing 1,000 workers revealed that 47% of Gen Zers are looking for a direct job.

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While numbers vary across voting platforms, the general trend is easy to spot: the number of Gen Zers looking for direct positions is outright higher than other generations, including, worthy of consideration. Attention are their Baby Boomer partners. Indeed, when comparing the generation that is just starting to enter the workforce with the generation that is starting to leave, Baby Boomers are by far the most likely to hold the view of working remotely.

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This may seem counter-intuitive, as Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012, grew up in digital technology. Often referred to as the ‘iPad kids’, this generation of digital natives is expected to be the most comfortable with the online nature of working from home.

However, with the first members turning 25 in 2022, the oldest Gen Zers only have a few years of ‘normal’ work experience before the beginning of the pandemic – and many are just experiencing a hybrid or distant start to their careers. Without the introduction and reinforcement of work norms that can be achieved while working in a physical office, Gen Zers reports that a diminished sense of workplace community, confusion in setting morals mentoring and lack of career development opportunities.

One survey of Axios shows that 66% of young respondents prefer direct feedback from their manager and 45% of respondents are worried about maintaining a distraction-free workplace in the distant future or future. As for the generations in between, more than half of millennials and Gen Xers, who often take on responsibilities like childcare and family care, prefer hybrid or fully remote working styles. Again, in keeping with the trend, Gen Zers are more likely than Millennials and Gen Xers to win a face-to-face workplace, as reported by Edena workplace management platform.

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So what does this mean for employers trying to attract their newest workers? While it may be reasonable to assume that these digital natives would enjoy the nature of remote work, it is clear that Gen Z is hungry for human connection and sense of direction in the workplace. Requiring everyone to be fully present at the office can be a dramatic request, but providing at least part of the actual workplace experience – whether by implementing the work style incorporate or do some face-to-face meetings and learning opportunities – will likely be greeted with enthusiasm by employees in their twenties.


ZDNet’s Monday Opener is our inaugural tech show of the week, written by members of our editorial team.


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