How Gen Z Feels About Working From Home

From a Wall Street Journal column headlined “How Gen Z Feels About Working From Home”:

We Need Human Contact

In 2000, Robert D. Putnam published “Bowling Alone” and wrote that “social capital may turn out to be a prerequisite for, rather than a consequence of, effective computer-mediated communication.” What he meant was that without a close-knit and well-connected group of people, there can be no meaningful online communication. The internet, and the remote opportunities it provides, are useful only because of the underlying connections we share with each other. Those connections must be continuously renewed by in-person contact, lest we dissolve the ties that make us Americans.

There can be no effective, functioning society without face-to-face communication. We are drawn to each other, and this interlude of personal isolationism, brought by fear and disease, will pass.

I expect there to be physical offices when I leave school. The future is not remote work. If we want something done easily, we tend to do it online. The cyber domain cuts down on commutes and saves businesses the cost of a headquarters, and because of this, it’s a tantalizing substitution. But if you want something done better and if you want it done with care, you meet in person. Businesses will come to see the complacency of electronic connections leads to subpar products. Humanity needs human contact.

—Reagan Eastlick, U.S. Military Academy, systems engineering

Remote Work Is a Winner

I am optimistic about the prospects of working from home in the future. The flexibility and work-life balance offered by remote work appeal to me, and I anticipate being able to collaborate seamlessly with colleagues regardless of their geographical location.

Remote work enhances work-life balance by eliminating commute time, providing greater flexibility in setting work hours, and allowing for a more personalized and comfortable work environment. This can lead to increased job satisfaction and reduced stress. Remote work accommodates diverse lifestyles and circumstances, allowing people to better manage family responsibilities or personal commitments. Remote employees also tend to experience fewer distractions and interruptions, enabling them to focus on tasks with greater concentration. It also opens up access to a broader talent pool, as companies can recruit people from anywhere. The shift toward remote work is a win-win for everyone.

—Quinto Melnick, Quinnipiac University, finance

Hybrid Is the Way to Go

The role of physical offices is far from obsolete. The interaction of face-to-face collaboration, the environment of creativity developed in spontaneous office interactions, and the rhythm of a physical work environment hold unparalleled value. Remote work, despite its flexibility, can’t fully replicate the dynamism of in-person work settings.

The future of work requires a nuanced understanding beyond the binary of remote versus in-office attendance. A hybrid model, in which employees are expected to attend the office a few days a week, is emerging as the future’s front-runner. This model blends the independence of remote work with the benefits of office collaboration, and it demonstrates the adaptability of the modern workforce. It’s a thoughtful response to the diversified needs and preferences of today’s professionals. The transition to a hybrid work model is not just a compromise—it’s a step forward.

—Ronish Dua, University of Virginia, computer science

Remote Work Fuels Depression

After completing a primarily remote internship this summer, I am very unlikely to accept a job after graduating that is fully remote. The consequences and potential risks of leaving employees isolated for hours each week far outweigh the few benefits of remote work.

The Harvard Business Review found that remote employees are more productive than on-site workers. But what cost are we willing to pay just to increase productivity? While working remotely has increased productivity within some companies, it also increases the risk of declining mental health. A study by RSM US and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that 64% of executives said their employees’ mental health was negatively affected by remote work.

Part of the fulfillment people find in their jobs is from their sense of belonging and shared goals with their company. People need genuine social interaction. In fact, a University of Michigan study found that the more time people spent interacting with others, the more their mental function improved.

Humans are social creatures, and taking away interpersonal connections in face-to-face settings has shown an alarming decline in employees’ well-being and mental health. It’s time for employers to think about the overall welfare of their employees when considering remote environments.

—Molly Jenkins, Baylor University, entrepreneurship

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