Designing Your Office for Gen Z

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By 2021 Gen Z should make up one-fifth of the labor force

By the end of the decade, Generation Z, commonly defined as anyone born in the late 1990s and later, will be entering the workforce. Individuals who make up Gen Z never experienced a world without internet, likely watched their parents struggle through the Great Recession and only have memory of life post 9/11.  Generation Z makes up 25% of the population as of 2015, making it the largest generation surpassing Baby Boomers and Millennials. Their perspective of the world and how it works is vastly different than any generation that came before. Along with that, Gen Z’s distinctive workplace environment preferences contrast greatly with those that previous generations are familiar with.

It’s time for employers to stop trying to design their offices for Millennials, or Gen Y, and to start thinking of Gen Z. A company’s long term success is determined by the behavior of their workers which will soon include this new generation of talent. An inviting workplace design and environment is imperative for all employees to feel comfortable and happy. Therefore, creating an ideal workplace environment for Gen Z while still blending the styles of Millennials is important to consider.

 


Re-Introduce Private Spaces

Hold on. After years of praising the benefits of open office space, you’re telling me to close it all back up?! Not exactly.

Gen Z tends to value structure, order and predictability, and prefers a more private work space or the option for one when desired. This is different from the open office layout and collaborative designs typically associated with Millennials. Communication is key for any workplace, but forcing communication by way of an open office style may not be the most ideal scenario for Gen Z.

One way to help combine the styles of both Gen Z and Millennials, is by offering more separate spaces along with the open office layouts. Having small individual rooms, breakout spaces, or privacy pods where employees can work, if needed, helps give Gen Z their own space while still offering the open office feel for Millennials. Even having low panels on workstations or glass instead of walls helps individuals feel as if they have a ‘private space’ while also enabling open communication.

Design a Lively Atmosphere

A lively atmosphere, from fun colors and patterns to artwork and unconventional furniture pieces, helps create a more dynamic work environment. With technology bridging the divide between work and life, younger employees are navigating the stresses of being seemingly available 24/7. Offering them an environment which is high energy may help combat some of the stress they are feeling which makes the work portion of their life more enjoyable. Avoiding the typical ‘office colors’ of beige and grey can help transform the way an individual feels about their work space.  These colors and patterns also encourage conversation and entice people to stay in a space longer. If your office is still looking like the office from  the 90s movie “Office Space”, it is time to think of a renovation, from painting walls to including wood wall features and exciting tile patterns.

Office Space Thinking GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Having a vibrant “living space” in the lobby is an additional way of creating a fun environment while giving off a lasting first impression to everyone entering the office for the first time. This doesn’t just improve employee satisfaction by providing additional spaces for them to utilize, but also helps from a marketing standpoint as it is the first space in your office that clients and consultants will see. Check out our blog post on Top Lobby and Reception Designs for more inspiration.

 

Integration of Technology

Both Millennials and Gen Z grew up with technology at their fingertips, however, Millennials watched technology grow from dial-up internet to Wi-Fi and smart phones, while Gen Z grew up with fast-pace technology ingrained within their lives. Individuals comprising Gen Z are known as “digital natives” and do not know a life without the modern day technologies we have. Seamlessly integrating technology into your office space and work culture is key to attracting Gen Z talent.

Having modern technology is necessary for any company to run properly, however, a clunky or outdated employee experience may leave Gen Z wanting more. Consider your conference and meeting rooms. Is your video conference equipment easy to use and integrated with your other communication systems like Skype or Slack. Is your wifi bandwidth capable for streaming music and video? What devices do you supply your employees to be successful? This can include laptops instead of desktop computers to offering tablets and virtual reality for use. Gen Z expects this type of technology in an office while Millennials tend to see these things as perks.

 

 

Flexibility with Creative Solutions

Flexible furniture for everyone’s needs is also important to consider. Office furniture that was once seen as having only one use should now have a focus of high functionality and an emphasis on style and comfort. Storage pieces that can double as seating for breakout areas or sit-stand desks that improve one’s health are great options for the office. Generation Z and Millennials are used to accessing technology at the palm of their hand wherever they are located. Therefore, neither generations like to stay in one spot, like a desk, for too long.

Therefore, allowing furniture to change easily for employees’ benefits helps to create a comfortable environment regardless of the generation. Including numerous creative solutions for workspaces allows the individual to customize their comfort and work station to allow maximum productivity. Having flexible, easily convertible furniture pieces can helps transform any mundane office into a space that works best for each employee in a modern design.

Philanthropy and Sustainability

Younger generations consistently care more about the environment and local community than their predecessors. This shift is very apparent in the consumer goods sector with companies such as Toms, a shoe manufacturer who donates a pair of shoes for every pair purchased, created success with this generation who wants their purchase to mean more.  This idea also applies to their workplace and company culture. Sustainable buildings and green design are more appealing for Gen Z and is the route majority of architects and engineers aim for when designing any new building. Many companies pursue their LEED and other sustainable certifications for their office to help entice Gen Z employees and create a positive buzz in the community.

Natural light, clean air, and biophilic elements can show off the sustainable design of the office. Indoor plants, vertical gardens and natural sunlight also improve indoor air quality. Every living generation can appreciate the fresh timelessness of a green design — tying wood elements into such a design helps to kick it up a notch by cementing the feel of a natural space. Introducing these elements to the workplace help improve productivity and the health and happiness of all employees.

 


 

It is important to have a happy medium between all generations that will be working in the workplace. These design trends will help step up your office’s design while still having a comfortable, professional and stylish space for everyone to enjoy.

 

Check out some of our office designs:

Higher Education Office
Level Office
GSD Office
Intex Flooring
Sunny Sky Products

 

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