Timed for the gradual lifting of stay-at-home orders in the US, a new global study from ReGenerations examines how the pandemic has impacted Gen Z’s perspectives on life, mental health, working and learning, as well as their behavior.
Despite the appeal of teleworking, Gen Z isn’t ready to give up the physical office for good, the study found. In fact, respondents say they’d prefer to work in a brick-and-mortar office two-thirds of their workweek. The finding shatters the belief that the tech-obsessed generation has been quick to embrace major tech companies’ recent permanent work-from-home policies, such as Slack and Twitter. On the other hand, 33 percent prefer teleworking.
This thinking extends to Gen Z’s perspective on remote education; 72 percent of participants believe the best way to get a degree is in person and 85 percent prefer learning in person. In contrast, 25 percent prefer a hybrid model and only two percent prefer online learning.
Gen Z are also experiencing Zoom fatigue, with 80 percent of respondents saying they’d prefer to meet in person. The study also reports that only 11 percent agree that Zoom meetings are as effective as face-to-face meetings.
Even for a generation that grew up on video games and social media, being stuck inside has been challenging. Over half (51 percent) say that sheltering in place wasn’t easy, as many missed being able to celebrate milestones like graduation (44 percent) and daily activities such as participating in year-end school activities (63 percent), hanging out with friends (80 percent) and dining out (50 percent).
“What we discovered cuts against the grain of the popular narrative that the post-COVID-19 world will be overwhelmingly online. That’s not what these young men and women want–or say they need,” notes ReGenerations president Jessica Stollings-Holder.
Gen Z’s screen time during lockdowns increased, albeit minimally considering the group’s reliance on tech. Forty-two percent of respondents report spending six to nine hours a day on their device compared with GlobalWebIndex’s finding that they spent four hours a day on their device in 2018.
Though 60 percent of participants say they spent time on entertainment during lockdown, Gen Z’s habits remained relatively healthy. For example, 56 percent report spending time with family, 40 percent exercising, 33 percent learning and 31 percent working.
Still, lockdown led to 66 percent of respondents experiencing heightened loneliness and 43 percent feeling anxiety. Nearly half (47 percent) also report a decrease in life satisfaction as a result of lockdown.
As Gen Z gears up for the new normal, they plan to watch their spending, too—60 percent agree they will not spend money freely given the pandemic’s impact on their financial futures.
“Right now we have a critical window with a generation who wants to connect. As restrictions are lifted, host events that bring people together. Bring learning back to the training room or classroom. Teach skills like emotional intelligence and communication. Don’t exclusively offer remote working–provide options. If restrictions limit in-person gatherings, make sure your virtual events simulate in-person connection,” says Stollings-Holder.
The findings are based on surveys distributed to 500 18-24-year-olds across 29 states and six countries, between April 21 and May 1.