Organisations across the world have had to adapt their strategies and seek out ways to consistently attract and retain the best talent available.
The rise of hybrid working and the desire for flexibility has become more of a staple of the modern workplace and with more companies expecting staff to come to the office for at least part of the week, the role of the office is as prominent as ever.
The competition for top talent is never going to end and for those businesses that want to stay ahead of the curve and attract and retain talent in the years ahead, they will need to devise intelligent design solutions in the present.
For companies to understand the future and, most importantly, what their employees expect from it, it is crucial to embrace the ideas and listen to the views of the younger generations that will be leading the workplaces of the future. To help inform this process, we have created our own Future Workplace Report which is driven by the findings of a survey of 1,000 Gen Z and Young Millennial (18-34 year old) office workers.
By seeking out their ideas of what the future workplace looks like, our data provides a view into their hopes and aspirations for the office and subsequently, the type of environments companies will need to provide to attract and retain top talent. With most of the global workforce expected to be made up of Millennials by 2025 and Gen Z starting to enter the workplace at the beginning of their careers, these two groups have an influential role in shaping the future workplace.
With the built environment accounting for 36% of the world’s energy consumption and nearly 40% of global CO2 emissions, the energy performance of commercial buildings is coming under increasing scrutiny. For engaged and eco-savvy young professionals, the ability of the building they occupy to contribute to global net zero targets could be a deciding factor in their job selection and duration of service. Many Gen Z and Young Millennial workers are taking an active interest in company policies and commitments in the fight against climate change.
The Future Workplace Report
Data in our Future Workplace Report showed that 61% of participants said that eco-friendly and sustainable materials are important to their overall office satisfaction. And far from being a fleeting preoccupation, these concerns are deeply entrenched and for many people, they’re a dealbreaker. According to Steve Ingham, Group Chief Executive of recruitment business PageGroup, one of the main reasons people leave their jobs today is a perceived mismatch in values between employee and employer, often about sustainability. In particular, “a lack of focus on issues important to employees, such as diversity, inclusion and ESG”, can prompt younger staff to quit their positions.
For companies looking to create offices that will enable them not only to attract but retain core talent, incorporating sustainability into office design is non-negotiable. There are several ways to design a sustainable office through the use of green materials, eco-friendly products and biophilia, among other interventions. But companies also need to think about wider operational dimensions.
Closely linked to sustainability, there is an expectation that the future workplace will need to promote health and wellbeing. This is a theme that has been identified as a major priority for younger workers and according to research by Mercer, delivering on wellbeing is one of the top five trends shaping people’s agenda in the post-covid era.
The Future Workplace Report
To meet employees’ expectations, companies need to consider how their office design can positively impact the people within them. The repurposing of physical space and introduction of new facilities could prove game-changing in the coming years. According to our research, greenspaces, wellness rooms, gyms, swimming pools and massage areas are all features people would like to see in the workplace in the next decade. Improvements in natural lighting, ventilation and Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) could also go a long way to driving progress in employee wellbeing.
Technology is another major driver of recruitment and retention and those companies whose offices are equipped with the latest tech will have a clear competitive advantage over their corporate rivals.
Discussions of technology trends tend to be dominated by speculation about the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other cutting-edge innovations. And indeed, our research reveals that productivity-enhancing AI and robots are regarded as key components of the future workplace. But far less extravagant tech developments are high on the Gen Z/Millennial wish list. According to the Future Workplace Report, “fast Wi-Fi, the latest laptops and noise-cancelling headphones” were rated as the top three most important pieces of workplace technology.
Innovative audiovisual (AV) tech will also continue to resonate with younger workers, with evolving software-focused solutions set to further enhance the AV experience. Those companies embracing new AV systems will be able to attract staff who want to collaborate seamlessly with colleagues while maintaining the freedom of remote working.
The days of quirky design fads in the office are long gone and the consensus is that the office should support its primary functions. The overarching feedback from our research shows that the majority (78%) of Gen Zs and Young Millennials perceive being in the office as good for their learning and career development. Our report found that working on-site is viewed positively, so long as companies provide the ‘right’ environment to support productivity.
The Future Workplace Report
Respondents were quick to dismiss the gimmicky design elements often associated with future workplace scenarios. Features like sleep pods, laundry services and beer taps were identified as the three least important design features for office environments. This trend suggests that, in the workplace of tomorrow, companies will need to cater for a focused, productive and professional generation of employees.
This isn’t to gut our working environments of all social aspects or innovative solutions – in fact, it’s far from that. People still want to come to an office that provides them with a positive and valuable experience but it is important to understand how you navigate the fine margin between benefit and detriment.
The future office should be a place that strikes a balance for individuals to be productive, whether in an individual or group setting and then gravitate back to the social and collaborative spaces when they’re ready for those activities. Placing this autonomy back into the workers’ hands will be a big positive in terms of attracting and retaining talent.
If businesses want to attract and retain the next wave of talent to their business, it’s clear that sustainability, wellbeing, technology, diversity and overall employee experience are priority areas going forward.
By demonstrating a genuine commitment to the issues that matter to younger workers, rather than making shallow or performative gestures, companies can develop a distinct competitive edge, enhancing their ability to perform in tomorrow’s talent market.
What’s important is for companies to make progress now to understand their workforce and what they want from the office environment. In this way, they can begin to create a compelling workplace proposition that will carry their business into the future.
Download the full Future Workplace Report here for a more in-depth look at the data as well as some of the practical outcomes for how to design the future workplace.Download Now