What separates a good office from a great one? A great office facilitates a productive work environment for a diverse group of employees. One aspect of this diversity is the generational range —individuals of varying ages and career lengths working within a company. Is your office Gen X-, Y-, and Z-friendly? Does its environment answer the needs of a multi-generational workforce? Read this article and find out:
- The pivotal role of office design
- Age diversity within the workplace
- A brief history of office experiences over the last decades
- How to choose the right office for your company
- How to find an office that supports generational diversity?
The pivotal role of office design
When it comes to workplace design, the office environment plays a crucial role in how employees feel, perform and engage with their work. On the other hand, the office experience is individual and based on a number of factors.
With higher statutory retirement ages and individuals choosing to work longer than before workforce has become increasingly more age diverse. Currently, up to 5 generations can be found working within a single company, with the three most dominant being Gen X, Gen Y (Millenials), and Gen Z. Each group entered the world of work at a different time, so their experiences and expectations regarding the office will vary.
Age diversity within the workplace
In order to create an inclusive workplace suitable for all, companies must first understand generational preferences and experiences of the workplace environment within their firm on a larger scale. Then, decision-makers can use that knowledge to leverage their existing space to its full potential or find one that answers such needs. What characteristics are associated with each generation?
Office experiences over the last decades
Offices have always been designed with productivity, profitability, and a tech-oriented approach. Nonetheless, the office environment has come a long way thanks to the advancements in each of these areas. Here’s a brief history of the office experience over the last decades:
Gen X began their careers approximately between 1980-1990. At that particular time, workplaces relied on in-person collaboration and communication, with e-mails becoming increasingly more popular. Cubicles were widely used to provide a degree of privacy and encourage focus, self-reliance, and independent work on assigned tasks. Offices featured a corporate and efficient open plan layout that was adapted to the large-sized machines entering the scene. The office culture, along with the dress code, was more on the formal side, though gradually less so compared to the years before.
By the late 90s and early 2000s, the world wide web revolution and the economic decline significantly decreased the office size. Due to the changing work scene, many industries began introducing solutions such as hot desks, open-plan offices, and home offices.
Office layout began to fall in line with the tech-driven culture. Emerging companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon soon set the tone for innovation-centered offices, which fostered collaboration. The utilitarian office environment became more casual in design and dress code. The late 1990s and early 2000s also saw the emergence of coworking offices.
Entering the workforce between 2005-2015, Millennials (Gen Y) influenced the office experience in line with their values and changing worldview. Much more environmentally focused and community-driven, they began to emphasize the need to make offices sustainable and lifestyle-oriented. Cafe-like spaces that encouraged socializing gained popularity. Millennials became prominent advocates of work-life balance. They sought inspiration and meaning within their places of work and gradually began to adapt the practical layout of the office to become much more collaborative, visually engaging, and relaxed.
2015 – present
Gen Z, who place versatility and flexibility at the forefront of their office experience, advocates individual expression more than generations before it. Their entry into the world of work helped offices evolve into creative collaboration hubs offering far more than just a space to work. Nap rooms, game rooms, gyms, podcast rooms, brainstorming rooms, and more became a reflection of the needs of the youngest generation represented within the workforce. With the rise of serviced offices (and leading providers such as WeWork, Regus, and more), offices evolved to present an attractive interior design and layout with an emerging distinction between “office vibes” – from startup, loft to luxury.
Employees and employers alike began to place more emphasis on workspaces becoming places of networking and community building, especially as the percentage of freelancers and digital nomads within the world of work increased. Many businesses adopted a pay-as-you-grow approach – leasing office spaces of a particular size in line with company growth -with shorter and more flexible lease contracts, hybrid work models and hub-and-spoke offices becoming mainstream in the context of greater digitalization, mobility, and globalization.
How to choose the right office for your company?
While open workspaces with cubicles were the go-to norm in the past, nowadays, serviced and hybrid workspace models are an attractive choice to many firms. These are particularly convenient as there is no one-size-fits-all office. A good approach is to create various areas within your space to cater to the different needs of your employees at every stage of their careers.
An office should allow everyone to find an area that promotes productivity and allows for the right balance of privacy and collaborative opportunities.
With the rise of flexible and serviced office solutions to rent, it is now easier than ever to find a fully furnished and equipped office in a great location. Such workspaces promote a community and network-building environment valued by Gen X, Millenials, and Gen Z. Furthermore, serviced offices provide many amenities such as lounge areas, shared kitchens, additional meeting rooms, and perks such as nap rooms and game rooms which play a significant role for Gen Z employees but are considered a big perk by other generation groups also.
How to find an office that supports generational diversity?
Age-diverse workspaces have been noted to reduce employee turnover, boost innovation, broaden the variety of skill-sets and promote mentorship within the workplace. The right office that supports all generations can propel your business, providing a comfortable, engaging, and productive place to work for employees at every stage of their career. If you are looking for the right space to elevate your firm, try the ShareSpace search engine and find an office that’s right for your firm.
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