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Millennials and Gen Z are better off returning to office, says future of work expert

July 12, 2022, 12:30 PM UTC
Girl working on laptop on mediterranean lawn with dog.
There’s a sense that younger generations feel loyal to themselves and their career over their companies, exacerbated by their experience with layoffs during the pandemic
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It’s not time to throw out your slacks for sweatpants just yet, especially if you’re early on in your career. 

Younger workers could find returning to the office beneficial, Steve Cadigan, former LinkedIn chief HR officer, recently told CNBC. Cadigan, who wrote about the future of work in his book Workquake, noted that going into the office might help millennials and Gen Z ease their feelings of frustration over being less connected to their colleagues in a remote climate.

“Their sense of commitment to an organization where they haven’t met people in person, they haven’t been around, is much less than the people who are spending time together as we were before,” he said.

Indeed, Gen Z has gained a reputation for being flighty during the Great Resignation as they job-hop in search of better salaries and working conditions. Data provided by LinkedIn to Fortune in March found that workers switching jobs increased by 37.6% from 2021 to 2022, with Gen Z and millennials leading the way at 59.6% and 34.8%, respectively.

There’s a sense that younger generations feel loyal to themselves and their career over their companies, exacerbated by their experience with layoffs during the pandemic. Remote work has made it even more difficult for some workers to feel like they’re part of a company.

“Younger workers are really looking for a sense of belonging in the onboarding process, especially with so many hybrid or fully remote roles,” Dave Carhart, vice president of people at performance management software company Lattice, told Fortune in May. “Everything companies can do to really support new hires and help them make connections will be particularly important.”

Since remote onboarding takes time to catch workers up to speed and feel personal, Cardigan suggests that younger employees start being intentional about how they foster their relationships and the time they come into the office. He cites the lack of bond that younger employees feel to their organization as a “big challenge” for companies working in a remote capacity.

Even as many workers ignore in-office mandates, some early career professionals are eager to return to the office after realizing how difficult it can be to network and form relationships in a virtual climate. Sixty-three percent of Gen Zers report preferring in-person training, according to the National Society of High School Scholars’ 2022 Career Interest Survey

They might be onto something, considering that hybrid workers report feeling more connected to their colleagues.

And in a time where younger generations are seeking mentorship, returning to the office can help propel one’s career, Jefferies Group CEO Rich Handler explained to Fortune.

“If you want a career, engage with the rest of us in the office and use wfh only when smart, flexibility is essential, mental health calls, and life balance needs help,” he commented on a @Wallstreet Confessions Instagram post.

For some frustrated younger professionals looking to feel connected to mentors, it might be time to log off Zoom and get into the office.

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