The first digitally native generation is entering the workforce; this is how modern workspaces can adapt to new working styles and expectations.
Generation Z is the commonly adopted term for post-millennials. The youngest members of Gen Z have yet to be born, while the oldest are entering the workforce – there is a good chance you work with some already. But the majority are finishing up their academic careers and on the brink of beginning their professional ones.
How will the next generation impact the modern work-scape? Here are four ways workspaces can adapt to the rising workforce.
1. Incorporate comprehensive technology
Google pre-dates the majority of Generation Z and at least half of the new generation are younger than the iPhone. It is not surprising that the first digitally native segment of the population is incredibly tech savvy – they quite literally grew up with it.
Gen Z is less concerned with data collection than previous generations. The Internet of Things is growing; shoes can connect with our phones, household appliances can be controlled remotely, and workplaces are incorporating sensors that monitor heat and motion, collecting data regarding space usage. These kinds of connections are something Gen Z has grown up with and will not only understand, but expect.
As our Creative Director, Nic Pryke, says regarding data collection and Gen Z, “there is a difference in that they’re not bothered by it. They’re okay with digital information being collected and used, because they understand it and they get it. They get how it’s beneficial.”
Gen Z communicates primarily by phone, whether it be across messaging apps or social media platforms. Many of them also have advanced technological knowledge, like coding – a valuable company asset, so it is important that the modern workspace prioritises in-house digital channels and resources.
Company-issued tablets, laptops and smartphones keep teams connected and enhance agile working environments.
2. Prioritise face-to-face interaction
In stark contradiction to their tech-heavy communication patterns, Gen Z largely prefers face-to-face interaction to online contact. Open floor layouts are a great way to foster cross-company collaboration and bolster team dynamics. We break down the advantages to an open floor layout here, including the fact that it saves money by retaining fluid office structure.
“The Z’s will be like the Millennials but multiplied in terms of their ability to network,” says Pryke.
“They work as a team better, more effectively and faster. They do that without thinking because they connect.”
Connectivity is of rising importance across the property market, as emphasised by the ‘Why Connectivity?’ panel at Bisnow’s 2019 London BOLD Conference. The panel of experts stressed that enabling connectivity fosters community, an integral part of what Generation Z will expect at work.
Despite their need for interaction, the new generation also wants their own workspace. Combining elements like quiet zones and private booths with an open floor layout will give your teams the ability to work together and independently, maximising productivity by catering to different working styles.
3. Promote work / life balance
With more young employees feeling burnt out at work, sick days are more likely and retention rates are delicate. In order to optimise the potential of the Gen Z workforce, it will be vital for world-class workspaces to prioritise a healthy work / life balance in and outside of the office.
Generation Z wants “…the workplace to deliver, to cross over with their work / life balance – to inform and deliver something around quality of life,” commented Pryke at Condeco’s 2019 Innovation Forum on The Evolution of the Workplace.
Breakout spaces are a great way to make office members feel at home. Flexible working will be something most Generation Z members expect. Making workspaces as pleasant as possible will only benefit your company. Gymshark’s Birmingham office is a stunning example of how these recreational areas can double as informal meeting places, and the newly added Gymshark Lifting Club reflects the company’s investment in its workforce.
Comfortable workspaces will improve employee wellbeing and prevent strain injuries commonly incurred from poor quality desks, chairs, and desktop set-ups. Focus on biophilia – the human desire to seek connections with nature – by adding more plants to your workspace. It makes a more pleasant work environment while improving internal air quality (and boosting productivity by 15%). Take a look at the ways we incorporated greenery into this office transformation for one of our private clients.
4. Be sustainable
On the next generation and sustainability, Pryke says that “Gen Z properly care about the environment because of the way they’ve been informed and brought up – it matters to them big time because they’re going to be around for 100 years.”
Gen Z is more socially conscious than previous generations, meaning they connect with genuine company missions. In addition to clearly emphasising your company’s ethos, make sure your workspace is proactively eco-friendly. A sustainable office is a supportive one.
If you are considering an office fit out or refurbishment, support circular economies by using recycled furniture. We work with companies who use environmentally friendly solutions to futureproof your workspace. From recycled furnishing to smart lighting systems, the future of workplace design is here – and it is sustainable.
Whether your professional team has a strong Generation Z presence already or is about to have one, Oktra is here to help you adapt your workspace to fit your growing community.