Gen Z actually doesn’t want to work from home

June 22, 2022, 4:18 PM UTC
Exhausted teenage girl working late at home on her computer.
After years of Zoom college, Gen Z has soured on remote work.
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For the youngest employees, working from home isn’t everything.

Less than a quarter (23%) of Gen Zers feel remote work is “very” or “extremely” important to them, per the National Society of High School Scholars’ 2022 Career Interest Survey. The report, which polled nearly 11,500 high school and college-aged individuals, says that remote schooling during the pandemic may have turned swaths of Gen Z off from remote working. So, too, might starting a new job over Zoom.

Only 13% of respondents said they favor remote training and onboarding, whereas 63% said they’d rather do it in person. Remote work doesn’t even crack the top three things Gen Z is looking for in a job, the NSHSS survey finds; they prioritize fair treatment of all employees, quality of life and flexibility, and corporate social responsibility.

Many expressed substantial desire for developmental growth; they’re especially attracted to jobs that provide clear onramps to promotion and benefits. A LinkedIn survey from earlier this year corroborates that, finding that 40% of Gen Z workers would be willing to accept a 5% pay cut to work in a position that offers career growth opportunities.

“People want to grow quickly, [and] mentorship—being able to connect with the manager or director on a more personal level—is extremely important,” Oliver Pour, a 2022 college graduate, told Fortune last month. Companies that ignore Gen Z’s expectations for personalized support and growth “are going to lose out on great talent,” he added.

After all, Gen Z is still leading the charge on the Great Resignation. ​​About 40% of employees plan to leave their jobs in under a year, but that number jumps to 65% among Gen Z, per a report from talent acquisition site Lever.

“I don’t think the Great Resignation is about wages. I think it’s about team, trust, and purpose,” John Driscoll, CEO of CareCentrix, said at a Fortune roundtable. “And if you don’t get that right, you are more exposed…as labor power and choice return to employees.”

Gen Z craves mentorship

Gen Z also wants to work in person so they can reap the benefits of networking. Lack of in-person mentorship during the pandemic has made it more difficult for Gen Z to navigate workplace norms and establish meaningful bonds at a critical juncture in their career development.   

“It was a struggle,” Rabmeet Singh, 24, a remote employee at Deloitte, told Fortune. “The trainings, and even the opportunity to meet your peers, was limited because in a Zoom setting, it’s not as meaningful as it is in person.”

That lack of guidance manifests in all kinds of small anxieties endemic to a distributed workforce, such as agonizing over proper Slack messaging protocol.

“People deeply value team connection—not only for improving productivity and collaboration, but also for increased job satisfaction, decreased stress, and the peace of mind that comes from expressing your true self at work,” Joe Thomas, CEO of communication software firm Loom, which recently conducted a study on the pervasiveness of Slack anxiety, told Fortune last week. “Those new to the workplace feel the need to be more careful; they doubt themselves more.” 

NSHSS’s research offers good news for both Gen Z and the companies that hire them: Going into the office, at least some of the time, just might work for everyone involved.

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