The Unwilling Remote Workers: Gen Z

Daphne Blake
5 min readJun 25, 2022

Just a couple of years ago, this headline likely would have made no sense. In 2019, only 6% of employees worked primarily from home, while the majority of workers had never worked from home. Even in my case, working at a progressive ag-tech company in 2019, the concept of remote work was novel. I had one colleague who began working remotely one day a week, which was quite new for my team. It didn’t cause any sort of disruption that I could tell, but this colleague left about a month later so the remote work experiment on my team quickly dissipated.

Fast-forward to May 2020, over a third of employed people in the U.S. were working fully from home. Of course, there are populations of workers for whom this wasn’t feasible, like restaurants, grocery store workers, pharmacists, etc. But for many workers, the office was no longer necessary as they looked to avoid any risk of Covid-19. What started as a seemingly short experiment “see you back in the office in a couple of weeks!” quickly turned into drawn-out years. People adjusted to seeing their colleagues over video calls, to rolling out of bed at 7:59am and starting work at 8am just meters away, to virtual happy hours (which in my company’s case quickly ceased). Now, over 2 years into the pandemic, remote work has emerged as a permanent solution for employees looking to retain the sense of autonomy they’ve felt since 2020, while employers look to implement strategies like remote and hybrid work to retain employees. My current company has chosen to allow employees to do what they wish, with the vast majority of employees working fully remotely. Every time a company announces a full return to in-office work, my recruiting team gleefully begins messaging their workers to see if they’re considering a switch. Companies requiring fully in-office work, like Tesla, are naive if they think this isn’t or won’t happen.

While there are plenty of reasons to stick with a remote workforce (or at least greater employee flexibility), there is one generation being left behind: Gen Z. Gen Z, encompassing those born between the late nineties and 2010, entered the workforce right at the start of the pandemic. Many, like myself, had their remaining school year canceled, graduations made virtual or postponed, and faced a rocky start to their professional careers. A couple of years later, many still are suffering…

Daphne Blake

Daphne is currently a recruiter in the tech industry writing about life in talent acquisition and tips for candidates and managers alike.