Designing a Workplace for Generation Z

November 15, 2017

Creating a digital landscape for digital natives

Just as you are getting used to the traits and personality of the Millennial generation, a new generation is poised to make its debut in the workplace. Generation Z is a large, tech-savvy generation that will begin to enter the workforce at the end of this decade. Right now, the oldest of this group are in their early 20s.

Generation Z has never used a pay phone or waited impatiently for dial up internet service—in fact, they were born into an always connected world. According to WorkDesign magazine, 77% of teenagers 12-17 now own a mobile phone. From a technology perspective, these ‘digital natives’ run circles around older generations.

Move along Millennials—let’s meet Generation Z

Demographic researchers don’t agree on exactly when Generation Z begins and ends. The general consensus is about 1994 until 2010, but a few experts point to this generation’s birth as entirely post-9/11. Estimates of the size of this generation vary, but most agree there are nearly as many Gen Zers as Millennials (65-75 million).

Because they are both large generations of young, technology loving people, it can be tempting to view Gen Zers through the same lens as Millennials. That would be a mistake because they are very different.

Millennials are the children of the Baby Boomers, while Gen Z is the product of Generation X parents. Their parents were latch-key kids and children of divorce, but Gen Xers raised their own children quite differently. Gen Z has the highest rate of home schooling in history and very high numbers have a stay-at-home parent. Their families are small, secure, and close knit.

From a work perspective, the most important characteristic of Gen Z is that they are digital natives, born immersed in internet technology and infused with a desire to use it in every facet of their lives. They grew up with smartphones, high speed internet connectivity, WiFi, cloud computing, and social media. They use social media to interact with people they would never meet in the offline world, as well as strengthen bonds with real world friends. These young people are never disconnected or unplugged.

5 things Generation Z values in the workplace

  1. Technology: Far ahead of any other element of design, your organisation must adopt and embrace the digital workplace if you want to attract talented young Gen Z employees. According to Inc., 91% of Gen Zers said the technological sophistication of companies would directly impact their decision about where to accept an offer of employment.
  2. Structure and Intuitiveness: Because they grew up in safe, secure environments, they value structure and predictability in life and at work. Knoll’s research indicates that Gen Zers expect to be able to easily orient themselves in a new workspace. The use case for each type of space in your office should be intuitive and self-explanatory.
  3. Private Spaces: They like personal space and boundaries in their workspaces. Gen Z will not be happy if they have to work all of the time in an open collaborative environment. Your design will need to provide spaces for quiet, focused work and places where Gen Zers can have some alone time. They do value collaboration, community and connexion quite highly—just not to the complete exclusion of privacy.
  4. Workplace Flexibility: Gen Z shares this in common with Millennials. They want the flexibility to work in the type of space needed for a task and appreciate the ability to work remotely and on a flexible schedule.
  5. Meaningfulness and Values: Young people want to make an impact and feel that the work they do is important. According to statistics compiled by next generation speaker, Ryan Jenkins, 75% of Gen Zers want their work to have meaning. Organisational values are critical; 93% will consider a company’s impact on society when deciding whether to work there.

Help Generation Z find the right spaces to work

Since Gen Z places a high priority on order and definition, it will be important to help them access the right type of workspaces depending on whether they need to collaborate or need quiet focus. Asure Software’s Room Scheduling, Office Hotelling, and Mobile Workforce Management solutions can help your employees reserve meeting rooms and workspaces, as well as work effectively from home.