With a proud flip of a tassel and toss of a mortarboard, millions of new college graduates are about to move on to the next life stage. For many, this means entering office life — either in person, virtually, or a mix of both — for their first professional job, with no syllabus to guide the way.
“During college, it feels like you’re singularly focused,” says Miles Simitz, a recent University of California, San Diego, graduate who is now in a full-time strategy and operations role at HP. “In the working world, there’s no more set path. It’s equally exciting and terrifying.”
In 2019, US college grads entered a workforce with just 5.7% (around nine million people) working remotely. Now, in 2023, that number has tripled to nearly 18%. Hybrid work is also trending up; globally, an estimated 39% of knowledge workers will work in a hybrid setting by the end of this year.
For young adults on the precipice of the professional world, work itself can feel like uncharted territory, but the rapidly evolving nature of work makes this a particularly charged time. “A lot has changed in the past two years when it comes to work environments,” says Kaela Moore, a communications associate who is transitioning from an all-remote role to a hybrid position at HP. “It was a learning curve,” she says, of having to jump in remotely. “But now I’m very grateful to have that skill set.”
As 2023 graduates get ready to take the leap into office life, here’s a look at what they can expect and how they can prepare.
Embracing the hybrid lifestyle
Hybrid work gives first-time employees more flexibility , but it also requires taking initiative in setting themselves up for success.
A big part of this is establishing a home workspace where you can be focused and productive — an ergonomic chair or seat cushion, laptop stand, and adjustable desk that suits your working style are some of the basics. Noise-canceling devices can be helpful for working around family members or roommates, and having adequate lighting can minimize fatigue from all that screen time.