Will Generation Z alter the design of the workplace?

International architects firm HKS conducted a yearlong research study to find out the future of the workspace. They based their research on Generation Z.

We have all heard of Millennials, well for better or worse - their reign is coming to an end. So, let me introduce you to their replacements - Generation Z.

Gen Z are born between the years 1995 – 2010, so they are young. Very young.  However, they are reaching the age that soon they will be joining an office near you!

Currently, only 6% of the overall working population is made up of Generation Z. But, in the next 10 years, this will grow to roughly 30%.

This study suggests that Gen Z-ers have very strong views on how their future workplace should operate.

“I expect that my future, physical workplace of employment will be clean, organised, and brightly lit ... I also expect the workplace to be filled with very advanced technology.”

The Gen Z participants studied, described themselves as Social and Tech-Savvy, so in order to play to strengths; a workplace environment should mirror this.

The social aspect lends itself very well to the idea of group work and collaboration. Collaboration is ingrained in the work processes of Gen Z from their experiences and expectations in education. In a world where we are all linked together by technology, it is still physical space rather than lack of technology that tends to limit collaboration capabilities.

Employment traditions are shifting and offices will need to keep up with demand. “The work style preferences of tomorrows talent pool rarely match the spaces being created for them by corporate management of today.”

How can we as designers address these solutions?

It seems pretty obvious that meeting rooms and collaborative spaces will become more important than ever before.

The open plan office spaces that millennials have encouraged over the last decade are all well and good, but areas for quiet work, phone calls and private discussions are very important to Gen Z. The study suggests that Gen Z actively dislike the idea of having lavish, utilitarian or loud workspaces.

According to HKS findings, the ideals most important to Gen Z are that their workplace should be:

•    Comfortable

•    Calm

•    Clean

•    Mobile

•    Flexible

The idea of a flexible and mobile workplace is one of the most interesting aspects for design, to be able to create an environment that allows workers to seamlessly adapt themselves to the task at hand. Whether that is a private small space or larger group work area.

The most common challenges that face workplace collaboration or successful group meetings are that the rooms and areas are too small. The lack of technology, privacy and poor internet access are all factors too.

What will this mean for the design industry?

The design industry will have an unlimited creative scope on fashioning ways to create workplace mobility, enhance space and flexibility - with a greater focus on comfort, quality and lighting. Office architecture and design will provide opportunities to improve the productivity of the future workforce.

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