Young adults going back to the office are concerned about these things

A latest New York Instances article described the issues millennials have about returning to the office, corresponding to psychological well-being, insurance policies round flexibility, and the return of an extended commute. Likewise, a 2020 report from Citrix discovered solely 10% of younger adults are concerned with returning to the office full-time—with most preferring a hybrid mannequin, during which they are given the alternative to proceed working remotely.

In my discussions with younger adults and college students of mine at Rutgers College, many are cautiously optimistic about returning to the office. Nonetheless, they’ve questions for organizations. Primarily, they need to perceive what organizations are doing to defend employees. Additional, they marvel if managers will give them time to alter as they return to the office.

The place younger adults choose to work

After surveying my courses, which consisted of 80 early-career people, a couple of preferences had been revealed. In keeping with different findings, about one in two younger adults (48%) most popular a hybrid mannequin. The second hottest alternative was to work onsite full-time (39%). Taken collectively, 87% of the contributors need to work, not less than some days, in the office. The outcomes had been surprising, bearing in mind my preliminary studying. And it contrasted with different research that discovered millennials are much less concerned with returning to the office.

What accounts for the variations? My sense is younger adults are wanting to resolve a problem they’ve skilled for nearly two years: social isolation.

Considerations younger adults have about returning to the office

  • Security. Like most staff returning to the office, younger adults are concerned about being uncovered to the virus, together with sharing workspaces. Right here is one remark from my discussions: “My firm just lately adopted ‘scorching desking,’ which suggests a number of folks are engaged on a single desk on a rotational schedule. My worry is sharing a desk with somebody [who] is sick [with COVID-19].”
  • Lengthy commutes. One other concern consists of lengthy commutes and being uncovered to the virus whereas driving on public transportation and rideshares. For example, one younger grownup expressed concern over being trapped in a small house. “Whereas driving on a bus, it broke down. One other bus got here to get us, however we had been packed in like sardines, and I anxious about getting the virus, regardless of everybody sporting masks.”
  • Social interactions. One other concern younger adults have is expounded to interacting with others. Whereas working towards social distancing and sporting a masks is one thing younger adults are used to, it’s tough to know the way to work together with others in the office. One survey respondent shared: “Interacting with folks on-line versus interacting with folks in individual has completely different norms.”

Steps to transition back to a bodily house

Subsequently, what can managers do to ease the transition into the office?

  1. Leverage the time everyone seems to be in the office. One among the major causes younger adults need to be in the office is for assembly and socializing with different folks. Subsequently, it will likely be useful if managers manage actions that allow interplay. For instance, managers ought to attempt having in-person conferences relying on the variety of folks on their staff. Additionally, managers can manage out of doors staff lunches. Managers can host mission “brown bag” gatherings. Staff can provide updates about their present work and ask for recommendation on areas the place they’ve gotten caught. Lastly, managers can facilitate introductions between younger adults and different folks in the group.
  2. Nonetheless, keep away from morning classes. Young adults which have labored or gone to faculty remotely have gotten used to having the first couple of hours every morning to manage themselves. Subsequently, whereas managers ought to leverage the time staff are in the office—it would assist to give younger adults the first couple of hours in the day to work on their very own. Additionally, it would put much less strain on younger adults as they determine how to navigate visitors (in the event that they drive) or commute on public transportation. For instance, younger adults can commute throughout off-peak instances when it’s much less crowded.
  3. Construct consciousness, and don’t neglect security protocols. Workplaces have taken varied steps to make the workplaces safer (i.e., imposing masks necessities, altering filters, sanitizing desks). Some places of work have up to date their ventilation and filtrations systems. Nonetheless, what good are these steps if staff are not conscious of the adjustments which have taken place? Subsequently, managers can provide younger adults a cheat sheet that explains the group’s steps to make the setting safer.

Managers also can give their staff the choice of utilizing Zoom, even when they are in the office. For instance, staff might be comfy working at their desks, however they might not need to be in a roomful of individuals throughout conferences. Lastly, in case your group is leveraging “hoteling” work house or scorching desks, be certain that staff observe cleaning protocols earlier than and after utilizing the house.

General, the key to making younger adults really feel protected in the office is to act with transparency (like, by speaking security protocols), present flexibility, and manage actions that allow them to construct relationships with coworkers.


Kyra Leigh Sutton, PhD, is a college member at Rutgers College Faculty of Administration and Labor Relations in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Her analysis pursuits embrace the growth and retention of early-career staff.