Massive work from home shift inevitable for South Africa

 ·1 Apr 2024

The call for employees to return to the office is leading to a battle between younger workers and their employers.

Companies worldwide, including Dell, Tata Consultancy Services and even Zoom, have demanded that their employees return to the office.

“The reasons put forward by businesses who want employees in the office may vary but there are common themes, such as lower productivity and a struggling or absent company culture,” said Gary Silbermann from hiring platform One Degree.

“While these concerns are valid and most certainly the lived experiences of C-suites trying to drive the bottom line, as the workforce demographics shift to younger generations it will become more difficult to enforce an onsite office work culture.”

Gen Z, those born between the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2010s, are set up to make up 40% of the workforce in the next six years, eventually becoming the dominant demographic.

With the generation growing up in a digitally enabled world, remote work feels second nature to many.

Moreover, many younger workers don’t see how the structured nine-to-five work hours results in financial stability or wealth creation.

“They can’t afford bonds; they struggle to pay rent. They see their working parents constantly stressed and exhausted. 50% of their parents are divorced. Quality time with their parents is rare. It’s a model which doesn’t inspire them because they see the damage that it has done to their families – and to them.”

Many are against commuting due to the environmental impact, while others can’t afford to live in inter cities.

Younger workers are also motivated by short work stints and project-based work, with Gen Z workers expected to change jobs up to 10 times between the ages of 18 and 34, meaning that they are less fearful of threats from their employers.

Many businesses will be against the idea of onboarding someone who will be gone within a year to 18 months.

In addition, with social media and online video games, the younger generation can bond online.

Covid lockdowns also cemented these opinions.

“We told them during lockdown to embrace e-learning, online classes and collaboration tools. They delivered. We told them it was good. Telling them now that digital working, socialising and collaborating online is inferior doesn’t make sense to them.”

Read: This is how much South Africa’s ‘Big Four’ banks are worth to the government

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