How Generation Z will impact office design


06.01.20
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Generation Z are steadily entering the workforce, impacting not only working practices but also workplace design. For the first time the workforce comprises four generations - Baby Boomers nearing or delaying retirement, ‘mid-life’ Generation X, grown-up Millennials and now the ‘digital native’ youth.

Generation Z versus Millennials

Office design is adjusting to accommodate the very different expectations and requirements of today’s diverse workers. Even previously traditional industries are moving towards ‘Agile’ workplaces to increase creativity and productivity as well as attracting and retaining the best talent in the face of fierce competition.

However, informal collaborative space, popular with Millennials, has been viewed as insufficient to accommodate the distinct differences of the younger generation. Research by Knoll predicted that greater flexibility will be required, with a variety of social and private spaces, meeting booths and single ‘pods’, providing employees with multiple options for working together or finding separate space to focus.

Gen Zers are WAY less collaborative than Millennials. Take open office space – the Millennials dream environment that so many offices have catered to – only 8% of Gen Z likes open office concept.

David Stillman GenZGuru Consultancy

Flexible office design

Preferring order and structure, Gen Z benefit from a balance of “Refuge” and “Enclave” spaces. Refuge spaces such as privacy booths or low panels on workstations, reduce distraction and encourage focus. Enclave spaces such as ‘railway carriages’ and meeting booths support blended face to face and online meetings. Striking the right balance in a workspace allows teams to select the environment in which they are most comfortable, and therefore productive, or that is most suited to the task or activity required of them.

Attracting Gen Z employees

UNiDAYS recently conducted a survey of 16,747 college-aged Gen Zers from the U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand to understand this generation’s outlook on the future. 77% of Gen Z would prefer to work for a company that doesn’t just offer a good salary, but also shares their political views. More than previous generations, they want to work for companies that align with their values and make a difference in areas they care about. For businesses competing for the best talent, demonstrating environmentally conscious credentials such as improving workspace with biophilic design or sourcing locally and sustainably, are becoming increasingly important.

Sustainable Office

A study by HP highlights the importance to employees of an employer's commitment to sustainability. The global, 20,000 participant survey found that 61% believe sustainability is mandatory for businesses. Of those interviewed, 56% believe that ignoring environmental impact in the workplace is as bad as ignoring diversity and inclusion. Responding to this trend, furniture manufacturer's are giving increasing consideration to ethically sourced materials and recycling in their product development.

Find out more about the trends that are driving change in office design by downloading our Workspace Trends 2020 e-book here.