As the COVID-19 pandemic forced workers out of traditional offices and into remote situations, members of Generation Z started to enter the workforce. These young people, born in or after 1997, graduated from college or landed their first jobs while the world was shutting down, and have never worked in an office. Could this have negative effects on these workers’ personal and professional lives? The Wall Street Journal turned to Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, senior research scholar in psychology, in “Thanks to Remote Work, Many in Gen Z May Never Work in an Office. Will It Matter?”
While many young adults say they would prefer to work remotely at least half of the time, they also report an increase in anxiety and depression. Research and experience have shown that working from home can make anyone lonely and anxious, but experts say these effects are more pronounced for Gen Zers — who have already spent a lot of time on screens throughout their lives.
And young adulthood is a particularly lonely period of life for many, Arnett says. It is “when people spend the most time alone until you get to your 70s,” he says. “You may not have a romantic partner, you may not see your parents so much anymore because you probably don’t live at home, and you change residences so much that that complicates having stable friendships.”
Working in an office allows relationships with colleagues, from friendships to mentorships, to form more naturally, he adds.
Members of Gen Z are expected to account for nearly a third of the U.S. civilian labor force by 2030, according to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.