Just as companies were getting to grips with Generation Y (or millennials as they are more commonly known) and designing their offices to meet their needs. A new generation is set to enter the workplace. Enter Generation Z; The Digital Natives, the leaders of online collaboration and the future of our workforce. However, the question remains; how do we attract and engage with this generation through office design?
Generation Z In The Workforce
Generation Z, born 1998 onwards, will by 2020 account for up to 20% of the workforce. With this in mind, it is crucial that businesses know exactly who they are, and what they want from their office environment in order to attract and retain this new generation.
Many companies however, will make the mistake of assuming that Generation Z is merely an extension of the former Generation Y, and will therefore have the same needs and wants when it comes to the workplace and office design. This is simply not the case. Whilst Generation Y value a flexible, fun and ambiguous approach to work, Generation Z are the complete opposite, seeking value, order and clarity in their surroundings.
With multiple generations being present in today's workplace, it is important for businesses to learn how to accommodate them, as well as designing for the future. As stated by Haworth's Senior Research Strategist, Michael O'Neill, “workers are changing, so workplace design needs to keep up".
So, Who Is Generation Z?
Generation Z, also referred to as the Digital Natives, have grown up speaking and breathing digital. Having seen the launch of a range of social media channels and technologies including: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, along with the release of the first ever iPhone in 2007, Generation Z is very rarely found without some kind of digital device in their hand. This tech-savvy generation are also masters of multitasking, with the ability to manage multiple instant messaging conversations, check their newsfeed, watch the latest series on Netflix AND hold a conversation all at the same time. Coined as the leaders in online collaboration, Generation Z may struggle with face to face communication and the development of interpersonal relationships.
Generation Z are also known for entrepreneurial qualities, with many aiming to own their own businesses in the future. As children of Generation X, and having seen their parents struggle under the financial strains of the great recession in the late 2000's, Generation Z are money conscious, seeking job security and are prepared to work hard for their money. Despite this money-orientated characteristic, many seek a job with purpose over one with a higher salary.
However, how do we utilise office design to attract and engage with Gen Z?
What Does Generation Z Want In The Workplace?
According to research 83% of Gen Z believes that three years or less is the appropriate amount of time to spend at their first job with some believing it to be as little as a year. Therefore, it is important that companies create a workplace that satisfies both the wants and needs of this generation in order to attract and retain top talent. The effectiveness of a workplace can rely on a number of factors. One of which being its office design and the facilities provided. Here are several office design factors to consider when designing a workplace for Generation Z.
Mobile technologies and devices are seen as essentials to the digital native, with 57% believing that technology allows them to be more productive. Having grown up with mobile technology as a somewhat permanent fixture, Gen Z view smart phones as a must have and depend highly on laptops and other mobile devices in order to stay connected. Make sure your office is fully equipped with technology that is up to date. Provide devices such as laptops and tablets rather than PCs so that they can be mobile and connected throughout the office. It is also important to ensure that Wi-Fi is available throughout your building so that this generation has the ability to use the multiple devices they are accustomed to throughout the workplace.
Having Grown up with online channels such as skype, facetime and gaming, Generation Z are well equipped to deal with online collaboration. It is therefore important to equip your workplace with the tools for video meetings, cloud based and virtual collaboration and the right space in which to hold this. Create small meeting rooms that fit 2-4 people with comfortable seating, visual displays and power points so that your workers can collaborate online, across various channels.
Structure and order
Unlike Generation Y, Generation Z values structure and predictability, finding too much choice and ambiguity over how to use a space, undesirable. Gen Z need clear circulation roots, making the intended use of various spaces more obvious through their design, signage and location. When designing for generation Z consider use significant elements such as landmarks for orientation for example, branded walls or stand-out features. Try organising your workplace into departments or neighbourhoods that are easily identified and having a clear work flow throughout the building to provide a clear structure.
This mobile, multitasking generation like to be able to move around the office, and do not do well when confined to the same desk all day. For example, they might move to some soft seating to work on a tablet or laptop. With this in mind it is important to not only consider the ergonomics of their desk chair but the ergonomics of comfortable and soft seating. Whilst you can adjust most desk chairs to support the needs of its occupier this might not be the case for all furniture. In order to provide a healthy workplace for this generation, the ergonomics of your workplace needs to be rethought.
Living in a world of emojis, Instagram and YouTube videos, Generation Z respond well to visual cues in their environment. According to research Gen Z are problem solvers, often compromising on accuracy in order to come up with a quick answer. In order to encourage creativity among this generation it is important to design a working environment that is bright and colourful, using artwork and graphics to inspire and motivate them. Read our latest blog for tips on how to use colour to encourage productivity in the workplace.
Having grown up in the fast paced, everything at your fingertips world we now live in, Generation Z have grown to have extremely short attention spans, with the average attention span said to be just 8.25 seconds (that's less than a goldfish!). Although able to multitask between various different technologies, Gen Z can be susceptible to distraction. Therefore, it is important to consider the incorporation of quiet spaces for workers where they can focus to get certain high priority tasks done.
Acoustics are important here, consider creating smaller rooms with good sound proofing as a 'head down space', or cubicles or pods within the office. Good office acoustics can also be achieved through the use of plantation and other biophilic elements.
Gen Z: Coming To An Office Near You! Is Your Workplace Prepared? Give Active FM A Call Today!
Is your workplace ready for the next generation of workers? We can help you design your office to accommodate both your current employees, as well as future proofing it to suit new generations entering the workforce.
For more information on our office design services and how we can help you design and build a workplace for generation Z please get in contact with a member of our team on 0845 130 9066 or fill out our contact form and we will contact you as soon as possible.