HP Innovation Issue 18: Summer 2021 | Page 34


After months of searching , recent Syracuse University grad Chloë Arambel began her first job at the Brand Agency in October 2020 from her childhood home . Navigating a full-time job against the backdrop of the pandemic , without having ever set foot in the office , came with a learning curve . She wondered how she would be trained , how she would learn what to do , whether she would understand ( or even like ) the industry , who she would talk to on a daily basis .

With a number of companies announcing some employees can work outside the office indefinitely , it ’ s clear that fully remote or hybrid work is here to stay . The 2021 Work Trend Index analyzed data from Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn usage to find that 73 % of people from various industries want permanent flexible remote-work options . This means that Gen Z ( the oldest of whom are turning 24 this year ) is the first generation to start their careers remotely on a vast scale , away from the coworkers , mentors , and office cultures that typically define early work experiences . The pandemic is their outlook-defining moment , according to the Center for Generational Kinetics , so the lessons they take away and the practices they develop now will follow them throughout their careers .
By 2030 , Gen Z will be a third of the workforce in the United States , so ensuring that they get the best start possible and are set up for success is in every company ’ s interest . Reliable internet access and a comfortable place to work are the relatively easy part . The rest is a bit experimental . Some 60 % of Gen Z professionals say they ’ re struggling — with motivation , isolation , collaboration , and work identity — which indicates that their adjustment to remote work isn ’ t as simple as being tech savvy .
“ New hires have many of the same needs , whether they start remotely or in an office . They want to know what ’ s expected of them and how they can contribute . They want to meet people and feel included . They want to be recognized and bring value to their team . So we take a whole-person approach ,” says Luciana Duarte , Global Head of Employee Experience at HP .
Challenges for young employees Unlike mid-career and senior-level workers , Gen Z hasn ’ t yet developed work habits or strategies and isn ’ t used to working standard business hours . There are fewer organic chances to find a mentor at work or to socialize naturally online , and collaboration tools can ’ t yet replace in-person teamwork . It ’ s harder to learn the subtle ( and even the not-so-subtle ) professional norms that go along with each company ’ s environment . Like anyone starting out , they don ’ t yet know what they don ’ t know .