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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The post-pandemic working world is rapidly normalizing remote work — but the next generation of workers is wary of the change.

What's happening: Transitioning to remote work is far easier for veteran employees who have already developed social capital in the workplace and know how a company operates. Freshly minted members of the workforce stand to miss out on those valuable skills and opportunities if they can't come back to the office.

Driving the news: A whopping 40% of college students and recent graduates prefer fully in-person work, according to a new poll by Generation Lab, a polling and research firm that tracks trends affecting youth.

  • Another 39% want a hybrid workplace, 19% want to work remotely and 3% say they have no preference.

Why it matters: That's starkly different from the numbers across the rest of the workforce. Just 12% of all office workers want to go back full time, per a recent Slack survey. The rest are looking for a remote or hybrid workplace.

When asked what they'll miss in a remote future, 74% of young people say the office community and 41% say mentoring.

  • 66% of respondents want in-person feedback from their managers, rather than receiving a written report or chatting over Zoom.
  • 33% of respondents don't want to miss out on office amenities. The perks at company headquarters — like snacks and gyms — may be disappearing as firms downsize.

Younger workers are likelier than their older colleagues to live in close quarters with roommates or with parents. 45% of respondents say they worry about having access to distraction-free workplaces in a remote or hybrid future.

  • And older workers have more established personal networks as well, which has made them more able to move away from their workplaces, either to suburbs with nasty commutes or to entirely new cities in anticipation of remote work.

"I like the extra motivation to go home at the end of the day and the ability to separate work life from home life based on place and location," says Jenny Conant, a rising senior at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. It's also easier to read colleagues' body language in-person than online, Conant says.

The stakes: "They're missing out on the socialization and the chance to make the contacts and relationships you make in the workplace that lead to other things," says Jeffrey Arnett, a psychologist at Clark University, who coined the term "emerging adults" for 18- to 29-year olds.

  • Younger workers may get more out of the social component of offices — nearly a quarter of Americans meet their spouses at work — than their older counterparts who may already have families and established networks.

"Anxiety and depression has gone up in the emerging adult age group," Arnett says. "It can be a lonely time of life already. ... For them especially, remote work may have been isolating."

The bottom line: The remote revolution is underway, with companies shutting down offices and people making cross-country moves — but younger workers could save physical workplaces.

  • Managers and CEOs will have to figure out how to give their new talent the sense of community and provide mentorship opportunities if they want to effectively recruit and retain.

Methodology: This study was conducted July 2–7 from a representative sample of 544 students and recent graduates nationwide. The margin of error is +/- 4.2 percentage points. The Generation Lab conducts polling using a demographically representative sample frame of college students at community colleges, technical colleges, trade schools and public and private four-year institutions.

Go deeper

First look: Education secretary takes field trip

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona is taking a cross-country tour to visit schools and community colleges preparing for full reopenings this fall, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: School closings and remote learning were big flashpoints throughout the pandemic. The administration wants to tout the American Rescue Plan, which is pumping at least $122 billion into learning and student and teacher safety, and the trip follows new guidance from the CDC urging full reopenings.

Jul 12, 2021 - Health

Most unvaccinated people have low incomes

Data: U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey; Note: Does not include respondents who didn't report income; Chart: Axios Visuals

More than half of unvaccinated Americans live in households that make less than $50,000 annually, according to the latest Census Bureau data.

Why it matters: Making it easier for the working poor to get the COVID-19 vaccine, without dinging their already-low incomes, could help boost the country's vaccination rates.

Bezos beats Branson in space billionaires' battle for attention

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Imtiyaz Shaikh (Anadolu Agency), Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Jeff Bezos' flight into space generated more interest from the public than Richard Branson's, and both billionaires overshadowed their respective space companies.

Why it matters: Data shows an outsized public interest in the personalities at the center of the space trips, compared to the companies behind them — which could reinforce public suspicion that the ventures were partly vanity plays.

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