While many big tech companies appear to be pivoting back to office-based working, a survey has found that Gen Z workers feel remote working has had a positive impact on their career advancement.
The survey by National Broadband Ireland in partnership with Grow Remote polled 1,236 workers across the Republic of Ireland, producing a comprehensive national view of how attitudes and behaviors towards remote working have evolved since the Covid-19 pandemic.
The positive effects of remote working may well have a huge impact on how Gen Z finds that next job, compared to their older colleagues.
WFH: What’s So Appealing to Gen Z?
Gen Z are digital natives, they take to new IT platforms and programs with ease, they naturally prefer to send a DM as opposed to making a phone call or arranging a face-to-face meeting with a colleague. It seems this group is willing to forego the professional development via mentoring and collaboration opportunities the office grants them for some of the many benefits of working remotely.
Research from the National Broadband Ireland study showed that over 55% of 18-24 year-olds polled felt remote and hybrid work had a positive impact on their career, as opposed to only 23% of 45-54 year-olds.
The study also found that 57% of all workers felt remote work in Ireland opened them up to better job opportunities. While 60% stated that it gave companies the chance to improve diversity and inclusion, a big concern for Gen Z.
Another study conducted by SMRS in 2023 found that Gen Z cited two main reasons for preferring flexible and hybrid working. Firstly, saving money (38%) and second, being happier (37%). Flexible working gives a sense of being your own boss and also promotes the work-life balance Gen Z craves.
Return to Office Mandates On the Rise
To Gen Z’s disappointment, many companies which adopted work from home policies during the pandemic are now realizing the long-term implications of remote working and are coaxing their workers back into more traditional settings.
Executives at Big Four firms Deloitte and PWC told the Financial Times that workers who graduated during the pandemic have weaker teamwork, communication, and collaboration skills. They also cited a difficulty in training new hires due to the lack of learning through observation when employees are not onsite.
Earlier this year, Amazon demanded office workers return to the office at least 3 days per week alongside other global firms: Apple, Twitter, Disney, Activision Blizzard, and Google, to name but a few. Some companies are even offering to pay relocation costs in a bid to end remote working. However, many of these firms have faced backlash from their employees who have come to appreciate the benefits of working from home.
Elon Musk gave a harsh criticism of remote workers in an interview with CNBC’s David Faber on Tuesday. He described the people working remotely as “laptop classes”, saying that it’s unfair on workers such as those in the service industry who cannot work from home.
He argued, ‘I think that the whole notion of work from home is a bit like the fake Marie Antoinette quote, “Let them eat cake”,' Musk said. ‘It’s not just a productivity thing. I think it’s morally wrong.'
How to Find Companies with WFH Policies
Despite the shift in perception among bosses, Gen Z remains fixated on remote and hybrid roles. The jury’s still out on who will eventually win this battle.
This trend is changing the way Gen Z and Millennials search for jobs. Remote and hybrid working is now high up their wishlist when job hunting, but with policies evolving regularly, finding out which companies offer remote roles is not an easy task.
A new tool called the ‘Flex Index’ is collecting companies’ remote work policies and putting them into its own search engine. The database is using standard terminology such as “fully remote” or “specific days/week” to categorize types of remote work set-ups pulled in from employee surveys, career web sites and job postings.
Technology like this will help to empower Gen Z in weeding out those employers who don’t offer the benefits they are looking for and with some persistence could change the future of work.