Designing for the Multigenerational Workforce

Today's workplace is becoming more diverse. With people working longer, the contemporary office is now home to multiple generations. From the Baby Boomers in their late 50 s and 60 s, to the newly emerging Digital Natives of Generation Z and everything in between. Having previously focused their efforts on purely satisfying the needs of Millennials, designers of modern office furniture are now recognising the need to design for a multigenerational workforce in order to satisfy all of the employees with a workspace.

Designing For A Multigenerational Workforce

Fulfilling the needs of the more experienced, traditional, Baby Boomer whilst appealing to the digital, more flexible nature of younger generations such as Millennials and Gen Z and can prove challenging.

So, what do these generations want in the work space and modern office design?

Baby Boomers. (1946-1964).

Born between 1946 and 1964, the Baby Boomer is aged from late 50 s to 70 s and is the oldest generation currently in the workplace. Having grown up in a time before computers transformed everyday life, Baby Boomers can prefer a more traditional approach to workplace design. Characterised by being optimistic, stable and loyal,

Baby Boomers can still make up a significant portion of the workforce. So,whilst it may be tempting to include as much technology as possible, it is important that the needs of Baby Boomers are considered when designing an office space.

Gen X. (1965-1976).

Self-reliant, well-educated and entrepreneurial are all characteristics of Generation X.

Additionally many believe that members of Generation X are happy to work within open plan office spaces. As a whole, this generation believes that closed or private spaces are to be earned and are used to working in an open plan environment.

Gen Y, The Millennials. (1977-1996).

Arguably the most talked about generation today is the Millennials.

Well known for their relaxed character. The Millennial thrives in informal environments with a variety of work spaces. With no concept of hierarchy, this generation believes in equality across the office, prioritising collaboration and interactive spaces that allow for teamwork and idea sharing.

Gen Z, The Digital Natives. (After 1997).

Having grown up in a world of rapid technology advances, Generation Z is fully equipped to deal with new technology and digital development.

Unlike the Millennial, the Digital Native likes consistency and structure and needs clear direction and clarity with regards to using different spaces within the workplace. Although currently accounting for just a small proportion of the workforce, the Digital Natives must be considered when future-proofing your office design.

Supporting A Multigenerational Workforce Through Office Design

With a mixture of preferences demonstrated across these generations, it can be hard to know where to begin when designing a workspace.It is important to make the following considerations in your office design:

  • Ergonomics. When designing an office to accommodate a range of different generations it is important to consider their varying ergonomic needs. For instance, a 20-year-old will not necessarily require the same kind of ergonomic support as a person in their 50 s.

As a person ages, muscle function is likely to deteriorate creating the need for height adjustable modern office furniture that can adapt to the occupier.

  • Temperature And Lighting. As we age our bodies lose circulation, this means that Baby Boomers may need warmer office temperatures than perhaps younger generations. In order to design with this in mind, temperature should be easily controlled throughout the workplace with controls within easy access allowing flexibility over the temperature rather than a 'one size fits all' approach across all working environments.

The same goes for lighting, what would be the ideal lighting levels for one generation may not necessarily be ideal for a different generation. Having the correct lighting levels in place is a key ingredient when it comes to ensuring the health and wellbeing of your employees.

  • Technology. Millennials account for a large proportion of the current workforce and the entrance of Gen Z will be upon us in future years. As such, these tech savvy generations will require up to date technology within their office environments.

However, with varying levels of technological capability across a multi-generational workforce, it is important that implementation of technology within an organisation is considered. For the Baby Boomers and Generation X who are less comfortable with technological advances, training should be put in place in order for it be used effectively.

  • Open Plan vs Private Office Spaces. Whilst some generations are familiar with working in open plan office environments, others prefer a more private office space. In order to meet the needs of all your employees, a mixture of working environments that include both open plan collaborative areas and smaller private spaces is essential.

Quiet spaces can include phone booths, meeting pods and the implementation of other acoustic furnishings. Such spaces allow workers to retreat from the hustle and bustle of the office.

However, in order to satisfy Gen Z's need for structure, it is important to put emphasis on the clarity of these room functions.

Introducing the Agile Office

The key when designing for a multi generational workforce is to offer a variety. By giving your employees a choice of working environments they can choose the one that best suits their needs. Whether it's a private space for concentration or a large area for team discussions.

The agile or activity based approach for office design and modern office furniture is a great strategy to cater for everyone within your office. It is a fantastic office strategy because it offers so much variety within the workspace.

People aren't just their generations. They can have numerous different personality traits and preferences including: introverts, extroverts, visual and kinaesthetic learners. These differences make agile office design an attractive option.

Interested In Modern Office Furniture? Give Active A Call Today!

For further help and guidance when designing for a multigenerational workforce please give us a call. Our friendly and dedicated team will be able to assist you with your enquiry, providing you with additional information regarding our numerous office solutions such as managed offices and modern office furniture. So if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to give us a call on 0845 1309066.

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