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Gen Z wants to work from home but has FOMO (fear of missing out)

A new report from Washington State University reveals that Gen Z has mixed feelings about returning to the office.

On one hand, many don't feel ready to return after months of working from home. On the other, the generation feels it is missing out on a certain level of professional development and "access to networks," according to WSU's Carson College of Business Dean Chip Hunter.

"Are they getting the informal learning and the mentoring?” Hunter said. “The sorts of things that they think might be happening if they were going to an office every day. Are they getting less of that?”

For many Gen-Zers, specifically those under 25, the only professional workplace they have known is their living room. Their meetings with managers and coworkers have been largely virtual. While this may be preferred by many, they also are aware that working from home in pajamas is not always warm and fuzzy. They worry that aren't getting crucial experiences.

A total of 53% of Gen Z members surveyed for the report stated they do not feel ready to return to the office. And 63% don't fee that the traditional 9-to-5 office routine would work for them.

The WSU report states that Gen Z's general desire to continue working from home is not motivated by safety concerns. In fact, 73% of surveyed Gen Z feel safe to return to the office. But they prefer flexibility that working from home provides.

Gen Z wants company values

The study also showed that 90% of Gen Z want to work for a company that aligns with their values. Such values include: caring for employees' well-being; offering mental health care insurance; and providing a workplace that embraces diversity.

Nearly 80% of Gen Z is rethinking their choice of employment.

"Many Gen-Zers took remote jobs during the pandemic with an unknown future," Hunter said. "They may be having this buyer's remorse now because they didn't know where the economy was going; 'I thought I had to land something.'"

According to the report, Gen Z feels optimistic about the "future of the business climate in the Pacific Northwest."

As Gen Z is reassessing the jobs they took on during the pandemic they may be looking for other opportunities. If employers want to attract these new hires they may need to re-examine their values and make them more transparent. They will also need to find a balance between hybrid work and providing these experiences to retain and attract employees.

According to the WSU report:

The Great Resignation has shifted employment power dynamics in the favor of employees, and Gen Z is placing a greater emphasis on company values and well-being. Gen Z (92%) said it is crucial to work for a company that cares about employee well-being, and 82% said diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are a must have in the workplace.

Gen Z employees are also prioritizing mental health over flexible work options: 70% only want to work for a company that provides clear mental health offerings, and 69% agree well-being seminars have a positive impact on morale (up 18 pp from 2021).

Additionally, 79% said they only want to work for a company whose values align with their own, an increase of 9 percentage points from 2021.