When did you last hear the words ‘Let’s meet at the coffee shop to go over it’? Maybe it was this morning. Or just last week. Maybe you’ve just received a calendar invite containing that very sentiment…
If you’re finding it’s happening more and more, you’re not alone. The way we work is changing fast. Gone are the days of being shackled to your desk and staying put till the day’s done. We’re finding that our clients are open to less conventional spaces and offices. Generation Z has a lot to do with it.
So what exactly is Generation Z?
It’s that generation of people growing up in the era of 9/11. They were probably using instant messaging and email well before they left school. The concept of dial-up internet is probably alien to them. And now they’re entering the workplace totally un-plugged and in touch with technology. They’re naturally harnessing the independence and freedom that today’s constantly evolving technology brings with it. And that means working from anywhere but a fixed desk.
They’re also a generation graduating into some of the worst economic times we’ve ever faced. The idea of sticking with one job for a long time – the way their parents and grandparents probably would’ve done – is no longer a reality. Theirs is an entrepreneurial mindset. Bursting with ideas and always looking for creative ways to take on the next big thing.
One of the challenges we’re increasingly being faced with is how to bridge that gap between the generations. Without catering to the new generation of people entering the workforce, employers won’t be able to attract and retain fresh talent. While on the other hand, nobody wants to alienate the people who’ve already been working for some time.
Steve Taylor, Project Director, believes there’s a middle ground: ‘Creating a flexible model within the workplace, where it’s perfectly acceptable to work from home, from a coffee shop, from the airport lounge, to a variety of interactive workspaces within the workplace, is becoming the norm.’
And we’ve seen it happening with clients like Google, Bazaarvoice, and Moneysupermarket.com. For them, we’ve created an array of different kinds of spaces working in harmony within the same building and catering to all kind of minds, personalities and generations.
Our Designer, Gordon Byrne sees the potential: ‘People are less pigeonholed and a lot more connected, so it’s not so regimented. People want to make a bigger contribution and there’s a bigger opportunity to do that.'
‘We’re a little bit more open and less formulaic and rigid. And that makes everyone more productive.’
In fact, some might say it’s come full circle. As, Alison Mackie, another of our designers explains, ‘Philosophers like Freud and his contemporaries would’ve done a lot of their thinking and collaborating away from their desks, in coffee shops and salons. These were middle-aged men a hundred years ago working in a similar way to how younger generations work today.’
The possibilities are endless once we take the plunge and step away from the traditional office model. It’s the perfect environment for encouraging creativity and collaboration. It’s the not-so-secret trick to attracting and retaining great people within the business. And it’s absolutely the key to a successful, future-proof business.
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