How will Generation Z change workplace design?

There is much speculation and research documenting how workplace design will alter as Generation Z start to enter the workforce and what changes businesses will need to consider to support them.

Generation Z, also referred to as “iGen”, were born between 1996 and 2012 and have never known life without modern technology. Gen Z are defined as self-motivated, independent with a “do-it-myself” attitude, entrepreneurial and with a desire to work hard and feel valued.

Over the next few years we will see five generations co-exist within the workplace and employers need to consider how Gen Z will change the workplace.

Here are 4 interesting points for consideration –

  • 1. Office Environment – dynamic creative spaces that allow the flexibility to customise working spaces, the ability to create break-out spaces for collaboration and social interaction will appeal to Gen Z, who prefer to work in more open plan spaces as long as they can access enclosed private areas for solo and undisturbed work. Providing Gen Z with options to choose how they work best will be paramount in the planning of a new office space.
  • 2. Flexibility – Studies have found that work flexibility is more important than salary to this generation. Gen Z have indicated that flexibility is the key factor in job choice, followed by salary and then work-life balance. It is rare for employees to work the traditional 9-5 work day anymore, and instead are working flexible hours which blurs the lines between home and work. Therefore businesses should consider adding “lifestyle” facilities to meet the demand of flexible working arrangements, for example; gyms, shower amenities, personal lockers,  cafes and common lounge areas.
  • 3. Technology – Work environments need to be equipped with and support the wide range use of technological tools & devices. Enhanced and modern equipment, adoption of new technology, WiFi reception, responsive IT support, virtual face-to-face communication applications (Skype, Zoom, FaceTime), and even charging points for electric cars should be considered. Inefficient technology will lead to job dissatisfaction for this generation. Interestingly, even though there is a perception that Gen Z live through their smartphones, a recent study “The Gen Z Effect in Australia: Understanding your newest employees’ views on work, corporate culture, automation and you”, found that this generation desire coaching and feedback from their managers. With nearly 90% preferring face-to-face check-ins with their manager versus virtual meetings.
  • 4. Environmental & Corporate Values – Gen Z are much more environmentally & socially aware with a focus on sustainability and environmental impacts, and are sceptical of large corporations with unethical practices. Gen Z desire to work for a company with values that match their own, and consider a company’s social and environmental policies when accessing a job opportunity. Initiatives such as recycling programs, solar panels, water saving policies, energy ratings, community involvement and wellness practices will add to an organisations credibility.

Workplace designs will need to be creative, agile and adaptive to not only meet the changing needs of existing employees but also the needs of generations to come.