From Boomers to GenXers to Millennials and Gen Zers, each new generation enters the workforce with their own set of workplace design and cultural expectations — based on their unique opportunities and challenges.
Today, Generation Z steps into the workforce, bring a whole new way of thinking about the design of an office environment. How well are you prepared?
Get to Know Generation Z
Generation Z, also known as Centennials, consists of anyone born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s and encompasses 60 million people between elementary and college age — including 25 percent of the overall U.S. population, which outnumbers both Millennials and Baby Boomers.
Initial research characterized Gen Z as the most self-reliant, tech savvy, and ambitious generation to date. They’re also known to be self-aware, innovative, and goal-oriented. While Gen Z shares many characteristics with Millennials, research shows Gen Z as more money-conscious, entrepreneurial and individualistic than the Millennial generation; however, Gen Z has also proven to be less focused and less likely to be educated.
Designing the Workplace for Generation Z
In order to prepare your business for this generation’s new demands, here are our top tips for designing the workplace for Generation Z:
Reimagine the Open Office Space
Generation Z has grown up amidst the sharing economy, aligning with open and collaborative work places. However, Gen Zers also have a tendency to multitask, which means an open office could prove difficult for them to be efficient and productive.
Gen Zers aren’t quite as collaborative as Millenials have proven to be. Instead, Gen Zers enjoy having their own spaces where they can retreat to and work privately without distractions, whenever needed. While Gen Zers don’t completly shy away from collaboration, they also value independence and use competition as motivation, and may need encouragement from managers to work in groups when necessary.
As a result, companies could benefit from reimagining the open office space by continuing to include open environments, while also offering options for privacy and independence.
Structured, Yet Flexible Environment
Gen Z puts a lot of value on boundaries and personal space. To cater to this generation, we recommend designing your workplace to include individual workstations, mobile desks, small team rooms, large conference rooms, lounge areas and relaxed community spaces. Finding a way to balance a flexible space with structured options for heads-down work and private meetings will be key to attracting and retaining Gen Z employees.
Additionally, Gen Zers value flexibility, craving the ability to work remotely when needed and on a flexible schedule. It’s important for employers to understand that Gen Z has grown up in a digital space where work can be done anywhere, and that combined with their high levels of motivation will allow them to thrive in a flexible work environment.
Embrace a Tech-Centered Workplace
Because electronic devices always existed in their everyday life, Gen Z will require connectedness to powerful technology in order to work most efficiently. Upgrading your office technology and staying up-to-date with technology trends will be a requirement when attracting and retaining members of Generation Z.
Support Entrepreneurial Spirit, Not Party Culture
While Millennials may be dazzled by ping-pong tables and beer kegs, Gen Z will put a higher value on growth and learning. Gen Z desires stability, competitive salaries, and supportive managers. Instead of adding more fluff to an office to make it appear “fun,” employers should be thinking about how to create designated spaces that encourage a start-up mentality, provide support for internal hackathons, and offer workshops for continued learning.
Infuse Company Values Throughout the Workplace
Seventy-five percent of Generation Z want their work to have meaning and prioritize making an impact in their career. Companies should start thinking about how to bring their values to life in the workplace. Consider writing them on walls, naming meeting rooms after each value, printing them on collateral, including them on presentations, and creating shareable graphics for social media.
Prioritize Health and Wellness
Generation Z prioritizes a healthy lifestyle more so than any other generation and desires support in the workplace. Forty-one percent of Generation Z said they are willing to pay a premium for “healthier products” in the workplace. Investing in ergonomic chairs, nap rooms, standing desks and allowing dogs to come to the office are all great ways to add healthy perks. Consider also incorporating more natural light in the office in order to enhance productivity and energy levels.
Additionally, think about how you can incorporate more color into your design, such as calming greens, stimulating greens, and creative yellows. Mindfulness in the workplace can also help employees alleviate stress, focus on the present and increase happiness levels.
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Well-designed workplaces of the future should foster collaboration, connection, and community, while providing a private and structured balance for the upcoming wave of professionals from Generation Z.
If you are curious to learn more, or looking for ideas for how to reimagine your workplace, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d love to help!