Does your office accommodate various age groups’ design preferences?
Gen Z employees don’t want to work in complete isolation; nearly two-thirds prefer collaborating with a small group in an office environment, according to Robert Half research.
More than a third of Generation X members and baby boomers (44 percent), on the other hand — and millennial employees (43 percent) — say they’d be unhappy with their physical workspace if they didn’t have a private area to work, according to a National Business Furniture survey.
The office environment an employer provides can have a considerable impact on employees’ outlook and performance. A global study from Steelcase found employees who are highly satisfied with aspects of their workplace tend to demonstrate higher levels of engagement. Sixty-six percent of employees rate workplace design as equally or even more important than office location, according to Capital One research.
Different generations of workers may prefer different office formats — however, that doesn’t mean your organization has to invest in a complete redesign to position employees to be as productive as possible.
By implementing a few simple changes, your company should be able to offer employees of all ages the type of workspace that will address their individual needs. Updates you may want to consider include:
Adding casual seating
Some employees — 18 percent of employed millennials, for instance, and 7 percent of Generation X members and baby boomers, according to NBF — say they’d be unhappy with a non-open office layout structure. Gen Z employees, too, prefer open workspaces and moving around to being confined to a desk, according to Monster research.
If you’re not interested in reconfiguring your entire workplace into an open office layout, you may be able to incorporate some elements — such as placing couches in areas of the office with enough space to accommodate that type of seating — to encourage interaction and collaboration.
Earmarking vacant rooms as secluded spaces
Baby boomers may find workplaces that do have an open office layout challenging; they rated acoustic privacy as one of the most important office environment features in a Knoll survey. Other employees, too, value a quiet work area. Two-thirds of millennial employees say they hope to have a personal workspace — which CBRE, the company that surveyed the age group about their office environment preferences, attributed to millennials appreciating the privacy.
Adding individual offices to a pre-existing space can be challenging. Companies instead may be able to dedicate one or two private offices or other areas as places employees can reserve for calls or quiet work periods, serving as an alternative to a collaborative situation.
Purchasing food instead of a pingpong table
Forty-seven percent of Gen Z employees say they’d view a job with a fun work setting as the most exciting career option, according to a Center for Generational Kinetics survey. Millennial employees, though, don’t seem to be as excited about entertainment-based amenities. When asked to pick the most enticing office perk, they chose flexible hours over other options, including a game room, gym membership discount and nap area, according to Ladders data.
Millennials ranked free meals, though, as the third top element that would make them excited about a job offer; and Gen Z members have also expressed interest in gratis eats. In addition to viewing fitness classes, bike storage and other well-being incentives as vital amenities, Gen Z employees anticipate employers will provide conveniences like fresh coffee and free breakfasts, according to research conducted by Peldon Rose.
Our blog posts on getting ready for the Z Generation and managing millennial employees in the workplace, along with our Generational Diversity: Why Companies Are Focusing on It and How It Stands to Change the Workforce white paper, can offer additional advice on enhancing various generations of workers’ satisfaction levels.
For more thoughts on different age groups’ physical workspace and other preferences, view our blog posts on the succession planning issue you may not have planned for, 4 ways to retain older workers and winning the millennial talent war — and download our free white paper on what Gen Z employees will mean for the workforce.