'Graduates demanding 100% WFH and won't come to office for interview'

Graduates are demanding 100% WFH and won’t even come into the office for a job interview, reveals boss – as firms battle to end work-from-home culture

  •  Bosses offer benefits to lure staff to office, but poll suggests they’re ‘useless’
  • Gen Z want place ‘purposeand development’ above job satisfaction or money 

New university graduates have become so adjusted to working from home they won’t even come into the office for an interview, according to one boss – as research suggests Gen Z-ers can be convinced to work in person with the right motivation.

The UK’s post-lockdown work-from-home boom has seen employers downsize their premises, the blame pinned on ‘entitled’ and ‘quiet quitting’ Gen Z-ers who entered the world of work remotely and are allegedly resistant to changing their habits.

Bosses have offered ludicrous benefits like pool tables and office pets to lure staff into work, but a new poll suggests they’re considered ‘useless’ by younger staff who want support and benefits directly tied to their personal development.

Studies conducted throughout 2023 suggest younger workers who started their careers from their bedrooms during the coronavirus pandemic actually want to be among their co-workers – but only if they feel their work is worthwhile.

Other employers and experts say Gen Z-ers are dedicated workers at heart – but a generational shift in their attitude towards work means they want to be valued as employees before they’ll make a habit of coming to the office.

They’re a feature of modern offices – but new data suggests most people think perks like pool tables are ‘useless’

Other ‘modern’ office perks – like bringing your pets into work – are considered equally pointless by the young workers they’re meant to appeal to

Debbie Porter, managing director at Destination Digital Marketing, says graduates are demanding 100 per cent working from home and even refusing to attend job interviews

Experts and bosses believe Gen Z wants to come to the office – as long as they like what they do for a living

For Debbie Porter, managing director at Destination Digital Marketing, that attitude isn’t good enough. She told MailOnline applicants have requested ‘100 per cent working from home’, going as far as to refuse to attend in-person job interviews.

She said: ‘Over the last couple of years, I’ve had university graduates request 100 per cent working from home and they won’t even attend the office visit for an interview.

‘None of them have got very far, because I have no interest in anyone who has no interest in building a relationship with my team.

‘If you are brand new in a role in an industry you have no meaningful experience in, face-to-face experience, absorbing the culture of a place is a crucial element of making a good start in a job.’

READ MORE: Bosses say Covid has made Generation Z employees ‘entitled’ and workshy – as major firms are reduced to offering free food to lure staff to the office 

Hannah Miller, who runs consultancy business Hello Sidekick, says the key to getting people into workspaces post-pandemic is simple – make the office somewhere they want to be.

She told MailOnline: ‘What Gen Z wants from their managers is different. Most don’t work for a pay cheque – they want purpose, they want development, rather than job satisfaction.

‘If people are going to come to an office and sit in a booth and have no connections, why would they come into an office to do that?

‘If the office is a place where they can build meaningful connections and exciting conversations and be a contributing force, you’re going to make the effort.

‘Just saying ‘you need to be in the office’ isn’t motivating. If your relationship with your manager is difficult or toxic you’re not going to travel to the office just to get a nice coffee or play on a fancy pool table.’

A survey of HR directors conducted by money-saving website Nous.co found 25-34 year-olds were unimpressed by offers of breakfasts, pool tables, after-work drinks – when they really want help with their finances and mental health.

Health and Safety Executive figures reveal a surge in days lost to stress, anxiety and depression following the pandemic, particularly among younger age groups.

Those in the 25-34 year-old age bracket reporting more illness than any other group, while the proportion of 16-24 year-olds with work-related stress has overtaken that of people more than twice their age.

Nous.co boss Greg Marsh said: ‘Business leaders know that their teams are struggling financially. They also realise that employees’ expectations of how their company should support them in their day-to-day lives are rising.

‘Novelty benefits don’t solve these problems. Most people don’t actually use them, and they can seem pretty tone deaf in the current financial climate.’

Ben Farren, CEO of custom menswear brand Spoke, said: ‘We have a hybrid working policy, and want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to motivate people to come into the office.

‘Silly perks like office pool tables and free massages really don’t help with this – it’s clear people don’t actually care about them. When things are tough financially they can actually come across as being thoughtless.’

Hannah Miller, who runs consultancy business Hello Sidekick, says Gen Z has different ideas of what they want to get out of work – and the office

Many major employers – including a number of firms at Canary Wharf (pictured) have been downsizing their premises amid a rise in home and hybrid working

Many Gen Z and young millennial workers started their careers remotely during the pandemic – but experts believe they can be convinced to work from offices

A study conducted earlier this year concluded Brits are spending an average of less than two days a week in the office

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There is also a wider problem at play when it comes to Gen Z and work: their attitude towards their job is different from previous generations, especially following the mass layoffs and switch to remote working which came as a result of the pandemic.

Deloitte’s annual Gen Z and Millennial survey, which quizzed 22,000 young adults across 44 countries, concluded they value work-life balance above all else – and three-quarters would look for a new job if they were asked to work on-site full-time.

But there is a balance to be struck: a survey commissioned by the London Heritage Quarter business improvement districts also found more than half of Gen-Z workers want to work in the office because they feel lonely at home.

READ MORE: The Gen Z guide to surviving your ‘nine to five’: Influencer reveals top tips for office new starters … because there’s NO such thing as a work-life balance 

And surveys of UK young adults conducted by LADbible in April found young people are more likely to view the workplace as somewhere to make friends.

The study also found Gen Z-ers want to feel respected – with 54 per cent admitting they would accept lower pay from a company that ‘genuinely cares about them’ and 72 per cent saying an employer looking after its staff deserves ‘loyalty’.

Hannah, of Hello Sidekick, added the old-fashioned idea of working hard and putting in the hours is not resonating with a generation dealing with a high cost of living, dismal wage growth and no prospects of owning a home.

Having started their careers from dining tables and bedroom desks during lockdown, Gen Z is innately resistant to the idea of the ‘workplace’ – but this can be overcome, she says, with supportive environments and opportunities to grow.

She says she personally understands the importance Gen Z places on feeling proud of what they do – as she employs a number of younger staff including communications lead Zo, 22, and executive assistant Laura, 23.

She added: ‘There’s a generational clash here. When people say Gen Z or millennials are lazy – that is lazy, and a flippant response.

‘They’re motivated differently. A CEO told me recently that these generations have watched us work in a certain way and don’t want to do that. My message to businesses is: ignore that at your peril.

‘My experience of Gen-Z is that I have an amazing team who are really committed and have a different way of looking at life but are incredibly motivated by their work. 

‘It doesn’t mean they get everything their way – but my team work really hard. We started during the pandemic but now make sure we’re together about half of the week.

‘The way I see it, they want to be happy with what they have in their life – since owning a house is an unreachable target, they want to make sure they can enjoy what they do have, like their work. There’s an aspect of: ‘It’s got to work for me.’

‘There will always be people that don’t want to work – that’s not new. But that’s not what’s happening here.’

Keeping Gen Z workers happy isn’t just good for productivity; it could also save employers money in the long run. 

According to jobs website Glassdoor, the average cost of recruitment for a new employee is £3,000 – and if workers keep walking away, that cost stacks up.

Other bosses say there is truth to the idea that creating a happy work environment will encourage people to make the effort to travel in.

Hannah Miller (centre) with two of her Gen Z employees: communications lead Zo (left), 22, and executive assistant Laura (right), 23

Steven Athwal, managing director of The Big Phone Store, says his young hires always ask to work remotely at the start – but actually enjoy coming into the office in the long-term

Experts say Gen Z will come to work in an office – so long as they feel it’s a worthwhile use of their time

It’s rough out there #9to5 #fulltime #worklifebalance #tips

Steven Athwal, managing director of Wolverhampton phone refurbishers The Big Phone Store, says many young new hires often ask about remote working when they start – but come to like being among their colleagues over time.

He said: ‘We’re not going to find the best talent if other companies are offering remote work and we aren’t.

‘My preference is always that people come into the office at least once a week, or more if I’m working closely with them.

‘Younger workers are definitely more likely to ask about remote work in the first place, but I think they’re often also the most likely to benefit from the office environment.

‘I insist on new hires being in the office on a daily basis during the training period, and when this period ends, most actually choose to stay in the office.’

He added: ‘I think for many recent university graduates, especially those used to university courses that have largely moved online, there’s sometimes a lack of appreciation for how useful working in a shared space can be.

‘But even this seems to be changing again. The most important thing is finding an approach that best suits the individual worker, as well as the team.’

Samuel Mather-Holgate, of Mather and Murray Financial, said: ‘What most employees value is good company culture; and an environment where you feel valued and listened to. 

‘If that’s right, workers want to be in the office, in a sociable, friendly space. The gimmicks become unimportant, and the valuable benefits become real magnets.’

Gimmicks such as after-work drinks are being dismissed as ‘useless’ by younger workers, who want to feel nurtured and supported in their career

*THAT* tea run 😍 #workbestie #officelife #fashionoffice Office life Office banter Gen Z office Work bestie Office besties Gen Z style Gen Z humour Office tea break Working in London London office London outfits Working in fashion Fashion office LuxeGirls LuxeGirl office

Earlier this year MailOnline exclusively revealed Gen Z-ers are going through a confidence crisis when it comes to speaking publicly at office meetings or when giving presentations.

Experts believe younger workers who may have never worked in an office before lack the confidence of their colleagues, who may have had formative experiences in person that their younger stablemates missed out on during lockdown. 

But looking to TikTok, the video-sharing site that has come to act as an arbiter of mainstream culture, it’s clear Gen Z has an appetite for office life.

TikTokers post videos showing off their ‘corporate fits’ – their work outfits – as well as what they’re putting in their handbags and satchels before going to the office.

LuxeGen, a fashion and beauty publication tailored towards Gen Z women, posts videos of its employees’ office woes – from being overwhelmed by avalanches of emails to resisting the allure of the lunch run when a packed lunch is in the fridge.

One viewer commented: ‘I wanna work for this company they always look like they’re having so much fun.’ 

In other words, Gen Z-ers aren’t just going to the office: they’re fired up about it. The obstacle employers have to overcome is how they ignite that spark for themselves. 

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