- Joshua Roizman is a Gen Zer who started his career as a remote employee.
- He was excited about the freedom, but says the lack of in-person connection is hurting his career.
- Roizman tried to make connections by moving abroad and meeting up with other remote workers.
This is an as-told-to essay based on an interview with Joshua Roizman, a 25-year-old Gen Z employee working a sales job at a software-development company, which is fully remote. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
I was excited for the freedom of a remote role
I started my first full-time job in June 2021, a month after I graduated from UCLA. The job was remote, so I moved back home for a year to work from there.
Even though it was my first full-time job, I was more nervous about living at home than about the actual job because I felt like returning home wasn’t the right way to progress after going to college.
I’d gotten used to remote learning after being virtual for school, so I felt prepared for that aspect of my job. Plus, I was really excited about having flexibility as an entry-level worker.
After a year, though, I realized it wasn’t great all the time.
I landed a new job — another remote role — in September. Similarly to my first position, I felt like I was doing everything on my own.
The time limit on Zoom calls prevents mentorship opportunities
The biggest thing that I was yearning for was this idea of “off-the-cuff wisdom” from mentors or older folks.
You don’t get that when you’re on a Zoom call because you have a time limit on your conversation. I’d set up a calendar invite and only have 15 to 30 minutes to talk about my tasks, updates on my projects, and milestones. By the time those things were discussed, I’d have one minute left and everyone would have to hop on the next call.
I feel like the virtual workplace gives us little flexibility to speak about topics not listed on the agenda.
The ability for managers to share knowledge with me and other young workers is what’s lacking right now. You’re not able to get that over Zoom; you get that over a coffee, or a beer, or taking a walk during the workday.
Gen Z knows how to communicate, just not always whom to talk to
As an early-career employee working remotely, the proper way to work across teams is also something that I missed. It’s not that Gen Z doesn’t know how to collaborate or communicate. But it gets confusing when it’s all done over Slack.
For example, if I saw someone in the office and got to know them personally, I would feel more comfortable asking questions. But when everyone’s on Slack, I wonder: “How do I communicate to this person effectively to get my point across while also being courteous of their time?” Or “How do I make sure everyone’s aligned without stepping on toes?”
It’s particularly difficult when I have to make requests, like asking the media-buying team to put together a proposal for a client.
I don’t know if there’s a chain of command. I could just make the request directly since I have access to them on Slack. But instead, should I ask my boss, who will ask their boss, who will relay the message to the other team.
I just got out of college, so giving more work to someone else who’s much older than me feels weird. Any lines of hierarchy are blurred.
I became a digital nomad to create growth for myself
Without an office tying me to a particular area, I moved abroad and traveled to compensate for that lack of experience. I felt like I needed to go search for that on my own.
I was born in the US but I am part Mexican, so I decided to move to Mexico City to improve my Spanish and get closer to my culture. I was able to keep my job and work from coworking spaces around Mexico.
While abroad, I met other digital nomads, founders, and other people traveling. I learned how to pitch myself, show my strengths, and explain what I do to people I meet. I took the initiative to get a WeWork pass where I’d chat up others people and build relationships with them.
In those ways, being a remote employee has helped my personal growth. But there are still skills I’d like to learn from in-person mentors, like practical business knowledge or how to put an effective presentation together.
If I ever looked for a new job again, I would search for an in-person role. It’s great to have the flexibility to do what I want, but some days I wish I was in person.