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Study: Majority of Gen Z Remote Workers Feel They’re Missing Out no an Important Step into Adulthood By Not Being in Office

By Claire Ballentine

 A summer of disappointing internships has made the drawbacks of remote work apparent for a new generation of employees.

Young people just entering the workforce as interns or new hires encountered half-empty offices, absent managers and sporadic networking opportunities, according to a new survey from the Harris Poll.

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More than half of Gen Z respondents said remote work makes it difficult to establish connections, while 55% said they feel like they’re missing out on an important step into adulthood because of how the pandemic affected office culture. 

This runs counter to the popular narrative that Gen Z values working from home more than their older peers. In fact, a recent report from ADP Research Institute found that more than 70% of workers aged 18 to 24 would consider looking for another job if their employer insisted they return to the office full-time.

The Harris Poll data present a more nuanced picture: Young people want some freedom and flexibility, but also need structure and guidance to advance in their roles. 

Two-thirds of respondents said that understanding corporate office culture is essential to their career, and 57% agreed that face time with coworkers is important. Meanwhile, among those in fully remote or hybrid roles, 37% said they feel like they’re falling behind their counterparts who work in the office full time. 

A disconnect in working arrangements is part of the reason why. While 46% of interns worked remotely, over a third said their managers were in the office. And for the 33% of interns who worked in-person, nearly a quarter said their managers worked remotely.

Perhaps not surprisingly, two-thirds of remote interns and more than half of interns overall reported feeling lost at work, while 56% said remote or hybrid work makes it difficult to understand and participate in their workplace culture.

This comes as employers across the US grapple with how to handle hybrid work arrangements. Companies such as Apple Inc. and Peloton Interactive Inc. have told US workers to come back in September, while Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley are removing hurdles to a full office return. 

Read more: Wall Street Banks Lead Return-to-Office With Labor Day Push

The poll was conducted from Aug. 19 to 21 among a nationally representative sample of 4,061 US adults. 

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