90% of millennials and Gen-Z do not want to return to full-time office work post-pandemic

A Citrix study found that corporations expect people born after 1981 to deliver an extra $1.9 trillion in profits.
Written by Jonathan Greig, Contributor

A new report from Citrix Systems found that people born after 1981 --  called the "Born Digital" generation -- are no longer interested in working full time in offices and are vastly more tech-savvy than any generation before them. 

The Born Digital Effect features insights gleaned from 1,000 business leaders and 2,000 knowledge workers in 10 countries, attempting to gain a better understanding of people born in an era inundated by technology. Respondents were based in France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, Mexico, the US, the UAE, China, India, and Japan while focusing primarily on those working in the financial services, healthcare, technology, and manufacturing sectors. 

Of the 2,000 surveyed, 750 were members of Gen-Z, meaning they were born after 1997, and 1,250 were Millennials, who were born after 1981. 

The survey includes an economic model that shows corporations expect Millennials and Gen-Zers to "deliver an extra $1.9 trillion in corporate profits."

These two populations now make up the majority of the global workforce, but they are increasingly disconnected from corporate leaders, with different approaches to work-life balance, business, and more. 

The survey found that 87% of respondents are focused primarily on career stability, security, and a healthy work-life balance. The responses were in stark contrast to business leaders, the majority of whom thought their younger employees were most interested in workplace technology and training opportunities. 

According to the survey, 90% of respondents have no interest in returning to office work full time once the COVID-19 pandemic is over. More than half prefer a hybrid working model where they can work from home most or all of the time, while 18% want a hybrid model where they work from the office more. 

More than 20% want an even split between working from home and working from an office. Just 10% want to work full time from an office. 

These figures, like the others, were in stark contrast to what business leaders thought. Nearly 60% of business leaders believe younger workers want to spend "most or all" of their time at an office. 

Donna Kimmel, an executive vice president at Citrix, said that while many younger employees want to work from home, they do understand the need for in-person interaction, and companies "need to provide opportunities for employees to come together both physically in offices and virtually from home to keep them connected, engaged, and prepared for the future of work," Kimmel said. 

Almost 20% of younger employees are also interested in flexible workplaces that would offer the option of a four-day workweek, while 27% want hours they can decide on their own.  

This idea was also represented heavily when respondents were asked to name the three most important parts of work culture when they decide to accept a job offer. More than 80% said they looked for autonomy and compensation that took their performance into account, while 79% said strong leadership was also important. 

When comparing work styles, the study found that just 21% of leaders use platforms like Slack and WhatsApp for work, while 81% of younger employees do.

Contrary to stereotypes of each generation, just 30% of younger workers said they would leave a company that "lacked purpose" and only 28% would leave if they "felt the culture did not reflect their personality adequately."

Business leaders assumed the opposite, with 69% expecting younger employees to leave based on their "purpose" and 58% expecting them to leave over how their personality meshed with the company culture. 

The study included models from economists which showed that "businesses in countries with above-average Born Digital populations can see an increase in corporate profits equivalent to more than the entire market capitalization of the FTSE 100."

The countries benefiting most from their Born Digital populations are those with mature education systems or generally younger populations like China, the UAE, Mexico, the UK, the Netherlands, and the US. 

Tim Minahan, executive vice president of business strategy at Citrix, said the Born Digital generation is "the C-Suite of tomorrow and in 2035," and that "the success or failure of business and the global economy will be in their hands." 

"To secure the future, companies need to cultivate younger workers and adapt their workplaces and working practices to groom them today," Minahan said.

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