Remote work is great for a lot of things. There’s no commute, and many employees feel they’re more productive without the distractions of the office. But for Gen Z workers whose career-building has just begun, in-person collaboration at the office might be the better way to get ahead.
“The young people who choose to have that life—that go into work maybe one or two days a week or never, and work entirely remotely—they may have a version of success that is not our version of success,” New York University business professor Suzy Welch told Insider this week. “It’s all about how you define success. They’re probably not going to become CEOs, but maybe that’s not what they want.”
She also warned that, down the line, such employees may fall behind and not see the same “financial rewards” as hard-working peers making their presence felt in the office and, say, skipping a party to deal with clients instead.
Recently, a GenZer’s TikTok video, in which she complained about the 10-hour-day required to commute to an office for her first job, went viral. In it, she asked, “How do you have friends? How do you have time for, like, dating? Like I don’t have time for anything, and I’m like so stressed out.”
If the job were remote, she tells viewers, “you’d get off at 5, and you’re home and everything’s fine.” Or if she could just walk to the office, instead of having to commute because rents near it are too expensive, that would fix the problem.
Remote work downsides
Welch, however, cautioned that “there’s never really been a time where you could just sort of show up at work, work nine to five and have wild success. That wasn’t the deal in my generation, and it’s not going to be the deal going forward.”
Remote workers might also be more vulnerable to their jobs being outsourced to countries. This week in Australia, an Indian investor said that jobs done remotely Down Under can “absolutely” be outsourced to his country, calling the Indian workforce “one of the largest opportunities” for Australian companies.
“Support staff, IT, finance, mortgages—all of those can be supported because of a lower cost and at the same time English-speaking workforce,” he noted, while estimating that roles filled by Indian workers would cost 10% to 15% of an Australian employee’s salary.
Gen Zers opting for remote work should also beware of proximity bias, or the tendency of company leaders to give preferential treatment to employees who are physically close to them. It’s difficult to overcome the bias when the time comes for performance reviews and promotions—or, for that matter, layoffs.
Perhaps most concerning, Gen Zers skipping the office will likely miss out on important mentoring, suggests a recent report from WFH Research. It found that in-office workers spend significantly more time per week getting mentored or mentoring than peers working from home.
But Gen Z “shows the strongest overall preference for working in an office,” according to a 2023 State of Workers report from Morning Consult.
Oliver Pour, a 2022 college graduate, told Fortune of his generation earlier this year: “People want to grow quickly, [and] mentorship—being able to connect with the manager or director on a more personal level—is extremely important.”