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Gen Z Has Its Own Punctuality Etiquette, and It Says That 10 Minutes Late to Work Isn’t Late

  • According to a survey, 46% of Gen Z employees believe 10 minutes late for work doesn't count as being unpunctual.

  • 79% of their bosses believe the opposite: “If you arrive after the agreed time, you are late.”

Gen Z has its own punctuality etiquette: 10 minutes late to work is not late
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When it comes to work culture, Gen Z is becoming known for having a very different vision of work when compared to millennials, and, most notably, baby boomers.

Gen Z’s preference for flexible work schedules and work-life balance is entirely different from previous generations with whom they must coexist in the workplace. Despite the odds, it seems that punctuality at work is no longer a priority for this generation, something that bosses don’t like.

For Gen Zers, time is relative. A survey of 1,016 British adults of various ages conducted by online services company Meeting Canary found that 46% of Gen Z workers (ages 16-26) say that arriving five to 10 minutes late for work is the same as being on time.

“Gen Z is more likely than other generations to value and prioritize work-life balance and mental health over workplace stress, and that includes rushing to get to a meeting on time,” Meeting Canary founder Laura van Beers told Fortune.

Baby boomers disagree. In contrast, Gen Z's bosses, usually baby boomers, disagree and have zero tolerance for lateness. According to the report’s authors, 79% of participants say, “If you arrive after the agreed-upon time, you are late.”

The intolerance of delays increases with the average age, with 64% of Gen Xers and 60% of millennials. This is an issue for Gen Z, as their bosses tend to be baby boomers.

A courtesy that became a habit. The flexible mentality around entry times may originate from the five to 10 minutes of courtesy established during remote pandemic meetings. Gen Z was entering the job market in those years, so this courtesy time may have become a habit in their work behavior when they went back to the office.

This relaxation in time etiquette clashes head-on with their bosses’ habits and traditional upbringing. “While working from home has blurred the lines of what constitutes good meeting etiquette for younger generations, older office workers still have a more established and traditional view,” Van Beers noted.

It isn’t a unique case. The fact that Meeting Canary surveyed British employees might suggest that this type of behavior only affects young Brits, but location isn't the most important thing here.

In a post on X, Christina Qi, a recruiter at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, stated that all the Gen Z candidates she interviewed on Zoom were late for their appointments. “I’m an interviewer at MIT. Every single candidate was late for their Zoom interview.” 

Qi later deleted the post, but not before Fortune picked it up.

Learning habits and etiquette. Boston Consulting Group CEO Nick South told Bloomberg that all young people entering the job market, regardless of generation, experience a learning curve when it comes to work habits and etiquette. That includes punctuality.

“When all of us entered the workforce, it took quite a long time to learn. We wasted time being ineffective. As you go on, you learn when to focus and where you can take a shortcut,” South said.

Image | Pexels (Tima Miroshnichenko)

Related | Gen Z Has an Ace Up Their Sleeve to Make Space for Themselves in the Workforce: Their Parents

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