Future of Work News

Businesses Know Workers Are Never Coming Back to the Office


Generations that have grown up with the internet want to work remotely. Good luck getting them to return to the office, according to one expert.

Barbara Steel, PhD, managing director at EY’s People Advisory Service, told attendees at her keynote at Future of Work Expo 2022 Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that the new generation of workers loves its independence.

“Thousands of boomers are retiring every day,” Steel said. “The generations replacing them desire remote-work opportunities.”

She pointed to a global work study that queried more than 18,000 respondents from 26 countries. Two issues stood out:

  1. Hybrid workplace – Employees expect to be able to work from home an average of 2.9 day per week, and only 20% say they don’t want to work from home. In 2021, more than a third of people said they’d rather not work from home.
  2. Job availability – 93% of people say they’re likely to leave their current employment in less than one year. In 2021, only 70% of people threatened to find a new job within a year.

Steel talked about “Why Imagining the Future of Work is A Real Thing.” As far as working from the office on a regular basis, “Businesses have correctly realized that we can never go back,” she said.

Steel said the top three reasons people switch jobs these days are:

  1. Pay – It didn’t used to be this way, she said, but job loyalty is now a thing of the past. “Millennials, Gen Z, they’re ready to move,” Steel said.
  2. Career progression – People realize that job advancements mean more money. It’s become more important over the past couple years.
  3. Flexibility – This reason sank from #1 three years ago. Why? Flexible work arrangements have become standard, Steel explained.

Employees appear to be more optimistic post-pandemic, while employers say they’re less optimistic. According to the survey, only 57% of employees “trust their employer and feel supported by them.”

For employers interested in appealing to the new generation workers, Steel says certain techniques have been successful:

  1. Switching to a hybrid operational model – Embrace remote. “How do you get that right?” she asks. “It can’t be hit or miss.”
  2. Reconnecting the workplace – Please people. “Which types of amenities need to be made available in the office?” she asks.
  3. Reshaping programs – Foster careers. Optimizing opportunities to make them career focused is key to retaining talent.
  4. Redefining the workplace culture – Think holistically because people are looking at the total reward for working at a company.

The verdict is in. Businesses must offer remote work options if they want to appeal to the new generation of workers.

“For Millenials and Gen Z workers, they only know the digital world,” Steele said. “Remote work is natural to them.”

Edited by Erik Linask

Future of Work Contributor

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