Updated Feb 17, 2024 - Economy

What remote-first Gen Zers want at work

Illustration hands typing on a keyboard collaged with a W2 form and stickers.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Gen Z largely entered the workforce as remote and hybrid work went mainstream.

Why it matters: Early career professionals are hungry for mentorship and real connections (even friends) on top of flexibility and work-life balance. With Gen Z expected to overtake Baby Boomers in the workplace this year, those preferences are reshaping the modern workplace.

By the numbers: Nearly two-thirds of students said they were more likely to apply for a job with a flexible schedule, according to a Handshake report from September.

  • 36% of students said they want a job with an even split of in-person and remote work.
  • 26% want mostly in-person.
  • 11% want fully in-person
  • 13% want mostly remote
  • 14% want fully remote

The intrigue: Gen Z was the least likely among all generations in the workforce to apply for remote roles, according to a 2023 LinkedIn analysis.

  • The generation's oldest members either have "a couple years of pre-pandemic work experience or has yet to experience office life at all after having their in-person education disrupted by the pandemic," the analysis said.

What they're saying: "It's more about flexibility," says Christine Cruzvergara, the chief education strategy officer at Handshake. "They want employers who understand that work-life balance is important to them."

  • Gen Z applicants are also drawn in by financial and wellness benefits like tuition repayment, retirement programs, mental health days and gym memberships, Cruzvergara says.
  • Young employees have also started to shake up company culture with more casual communication, frankness about mental health and employer accountability.

State of play: Young professionals crave genuine mentorship.

  • 83% of Gen Z said a workplace mentor is crucial for their career, but only about half of workers reported having one, according to an Adobe report.
  • Members of Gen Z are willing to be vulnerable when asking for guidance as they get their footing, Janice Omadeke, a career development expert focused on mentorship, says.
  • Omadeke says she's learned from the way her Gen Z mentees assess their lives holistically, prioritizing both professional and personal balance. "Mentorship relationships are less transactional," she says.

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