Public Interest

Adapting to return to work: 5 challenges faced by Gen Z

As the workforce gradually returns to in-person work settings, the transition poses unique challenges for every generation. Among them, Generation Z, born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, faces a set of distinct hurdles as they navigate the return to office environments. Let's explore five key challenges that Gen Z individuals may encounter as they adapt to return-to-work strategies.

  • Limited experience with in-person work

Many Gen Z individuals entered the workforce during the pandemic, experiencing primarily remote or virtual work settings. As a result, they may have limited experience with traditional office environments. The shift to in-person work can be overwhelming, with unfamiliar office dynamics, commute challenges, and the need to adjust to a structured work schedule. Gen Z employees may find it challenging to navigate office protocols, interact with colleagues face-to-face, and establish a professional presence in physical workspaces.

  • BalancingfFlexibility with structure

Gen Z is known for valuing flexibility and autonomy in their work arrangements. The return to a more rigid office schedule may clash with their preference for remote work or flexible hours. Striking a balance between the structure of in-person work and the desire for flexibility poses a challenge. Gen Z individuals may seek ways to negotiate hybrid work arrangements or advocate for policies that allow for greater flexibility while maintaining productivity.

  • Social integration and networking

Building professional relationships and networking opportunities are vital for career growth, but the transition back to the office may present obstacles for Gen Z. After spending significant time working remotely, they may find it challenging to re-engage in social interactions with colleagues. Gen Z individuals may feel pressure to navigate office politics, build rapport with team members, and participate in in-person meetings and events. Overcoming social anxiety and adapting to a more social work environment can be daunting for this generation.

  • Technology integration

While Gen Z is often referred to as digital natives, their reliance on technology may present challenges when transitioning back to in-person work. They may be accustomed to virtual collaboration tools, communication platforms, and remote work setups. Returning to traditional office technologies, such as landline phones, desktop computers, and physical paperwork, may require a learning curve. Gen Z employees may need to adapt to new software systems, office equipment, and communication channels to effectively perform their roles.

  • Mental health and well-being

The return to the office can impact Gen Z's mental health and well-being, especially after experiencing the isolating effects of remote work. The adjustment to a new work environment, commuting stress, and the pressure to perform in a traditional office setting may contribute to feelings of anxiety and burnout. Gen Z individuals may struggle to maintain work-life balance and prioritize self-care amidst the demands of in-person work. Employers must consider providing mental health resources and support to help Gen Z employees navigate these challenges.

As Gen Z professionals transition back to in-person work settings, they face a unique set of challenges stemming from their experiences during the pandemic. From adjusting to office dynamics and balancing flexibility with structure to integrating into social networks and adapting to traditional technologies, Gen Z individuals must navigate a shifting landscape. Employers can support Gen Z employees by offering flexibility, promoting social integration, providing technology training, and prioritizing mental health resources.