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By 25 November 2021 | Categories: feature articles

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By Matthew McKay, Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa, Citrix

How do you create an office culture for a generation that has never worked in the office?

  • A subset of Born Digital workers began their careers during the pandemic, and have only ever known a culture where remote work is the norm.
  • They’re only mildly interested in working in a shared physical environment once the pandemic passes.
  • Generation Remote values collaboration and flexibility more than the broader group of Born Digital workers.
  • They also have higher employment anxiety than their older peers.

Generation Remote refers to the subset of Gen Z workers who started their careers from March 2020 onward, i.e., during the Covid-19 pandemic. They’ve only ever experienced working from home and, spoiler alert, they’re not averse to keeping it that way.

You read that correctly. Most of Generation Remote expresses only a passing interest in working out of a physical office. But don’t mistake a lack of interest for apathy. This is a highly motivated and enterprising generation, albeit one with distinct goals.

Here’s how remote work has impacted Generation Remote’s values and aspirations.

A closer look at the people behind the Generation

Compared to the broader group of Born Digital workers, Generation Remote cares more deeply about a good work-life balance. Almost nine out of 10 Generation Remote respondents say this is very important to them, making it the top priority for this group, whereas the rest of Born Digital give “job satisfaction” more importance.

Interestingly, when compared to Gen Z workers who’ve known an office environment, Generation Remote’s requirements are different as well. The vast majority of Generation Remote, 86 percent, say that a highly collaborative company culture is important to them when choosing an employer, versus just 77 percent of Gen Z workers who started work before March 2020.

The remarkable traits of Generation Remote only build from there. Compared to their older Born Digital colleagues, Generation Remote cares more about a sense of purpose in their jobs and the feeling that they are “doing good.” But with those higher standards comes a heightened sense of employment anxiety. Generation Remote entered the workforce during a period of economic instability, and broadly, they’re more anxious about losing their jobs than their older peers are.

This may be why, post-pandemic, most of Generation Remote would prefer to work from home most or all of the time. Six out of ten Generation Remote workers advocate for one of these options, versus only 46 percent of Gen Z workers who started pre-pandemic.

Critically, workspace technologies will play a major role in keeping Generation Remote engaged. The virtual office must foster as much interpersonal connection as the in-person one these young employees have never experienced. Organisations that successfully impart a sense of culture and belong to this unique cohort stand to get the best work from them.

To do it, it pays to look beyond the fleeting perk or company t-shirt. The Born Digital crave intangibles like trust, recognition, and a collaborative environment. It is fundamental that we see them for who they are behind the screen.

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