Gen Z and the future of work

By Christine Y. Cruzvergara 3 minutes Read

After two years of the pandemic, offices across the country are reopening and employees are returning to their desks.

Conventional wisdom holds that the young workers of Generation Z — the generation now entering their early and mid-20s — are not interested in cell farms and water-cooler talks. But employers who believe Gen Z want to be remotely controlled anytime, anywhere are missing the point — and could lose out when recruiting the latest generation of talent.

Gen Z wants the Goldilocks solution: flexibility.

In fact, the data suggest more differentiated preferences. Gen Z wants the opportunity to work remotely without missing out on the opportunity to meet in person to socialize with new colleagues. handshake latest report on Gen Z and Work shows that only 7% of all full-time positions advertised on Handshake were remote, but 17% of all applications were generated through our app. Our top keyword search of 2021 was “remote”. (“Marketing,” the runner-up, was searched about half as often.)

We also found a statistically significant association between a city’s proportion of full-time remote jobs and its popularity among Handshake job seekers—in other words, the more remote jobs a city has, the more applications a city receives. And it’s not just tech jobs that are sparking interest in remote work: More than 20% of applications from students majoring in communications, art and design, and healthcare professions were for full-time remote positions.

It’s not surprising that Gen Z are comfortable with the idea of ​​remote work as their new normal. After all, they grew up with smartphones, high-speed internet and social media. They were already going to school online before the pandemic, and recent college graduates have certainly had their share of distance learning due to COVID-19. Gen Z plays games online, finds dates, and hangs out online. They enjoy making connections online – not just social ones, but professional ones as well. In another of us SurveyTwo-thirds of GenZers told us they believe they can build their professional networks without having to meet people in person.

However, it’s not entirely accurate to say that Gen-Zers only want to work from their bedrooms or kitchen tables. Handshake users said they like a remote working arrangement because it’s convenient, saves them money, gives them more control over their schedules, and improves their quality of life. But they also want the opportunity to connect personally and spend some face-to-face time — not FaceTime — with co-workers, especially in their first jobs right out of college.

This desire for flexibility could also affect where Gen-Zers choose to live. The top location finder on the handshake network in 2021 wasn’t New York City or Silicon Valley or some other tech mecca: it was Florida. Our report found that Miami, of all places, received more than twice as many applications for each job than its size and demographics suggest.

Miami might seem like an odd choice for Gen-Zers starting their careers. Traditionally, the labor market has been dominated by healthcare, hospitality and tourism. Its largest private employers are a grocery chain, a hospital system, a university and an airline — not exactly the high-growth, high-paying companies that recent graduates have flocked to in the past.

But Miami has attracted some big-name fintech, financial services, and crypto firms in recent years. Overall employment in the tech sector – a major draw for Gen Z – has almost doubled in the past decade. Miami is also sunny and warm, and cheaper to live in than many other major cities — and about 10% of full-time jobs are remote, giving Gen Z the flexibility to work where they want while also offering the opportunity to connect with them network colleagues.

In the case of Miami and other cities with above-average rates of remote jobs, it’s possible Gen Z sees the term “remote” and thinks “flexible.” A company offer understood as a willingness to work with employees on many different topics such as: B. Work-life balance, how often they have to be in the office and where they can live.

Companies serious about hiring Gen Z talent need to question their expectations: does this job really have to be in the office? Can it be completely remote? Or can there be some sort of hybrid arrangement? Flexibility is key for Gen Z, and smart businesses must learn to be flexible with this new generation of workers.

Gen-Zers might not want to sit behind a desk every day of the week. But they want the companies they work for to work with them.

Christine Y. Cruzvergara is Chief Education Strategy Officer at handshake. Gen Z and the future of work


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