young woman working on a lounge chair outside

Spend 40 hours a week in a cramped little cubicle, doing the same job for the rest of my life? No thanks, says Gen Z.


When Generation Z is in Charge

One in four Americans is younger than 18 [source: US Census Bureau], and that demographic is growing. Barring an unforeseen zombie outbreak, the world will be theirs to run one day. So, what are we in for?

Fortunately, it looks as though the planet is in capable hands. We've already discussed their technological savvy and how information is at their fingertips, but this group is also more self-directed [source: Trunk]. Kids today have little need to await direction. They can access whatever information they need relatively freely and that information is usually enough to base a decision on. Where previous generations had to rely on a parent or teacher or supervisor to explain something, Gen Z isn't bound by those constraints and can access the info they need when they need it and get to work.

In the workplace, they're going to expect flexibility. When baby boomers entered the workforce, working for the same company their entire career was a barometer of success. Gen Z is going to have little interest in being a desk jockey for 40 hours a week [source: Page]. Instead, they'll view themselves as professional, permanent freelancers. They will swoop in with their particular expertise (they'll all be an expert in something), collect their bones and be off to the next project. At least that's how they see themselves.

Finally, they're going to be smart -- smarter even than previous generations, argue some. Their ability to process massive amounts of information quickly is actually preparing them to perform more mentally demanding jobs. In effect, an entire generation is training itself to handle more complicated tasks [source: Trunk].

So take heart. While they may seem like self-centered prima donnas now, there is reason to believe that today's kids will have both the intelligence and sense of social responsibility to contribute in ways that will outlast their ridiculous haircuts.