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Our Broadening Horizons research programme with Kingston University was a chance to have a new perspective on the workplace and how the office of the future is evolving. The students’ research was led by surveys and questionnaires which were completed by over 100 students from Kingston University. This study helped give us a great insight into the generational differences in the current workplace and the emerging trends. As recommended by their research, these 4 things are what Generation Z want to see in their office.
The idea of a cross-mentoring culture is perhaps driven more by employers and companies as they look to upskill their people internally. But the younger generations (Y and Z) recognise that there is an opportunity to both learn and share their knowledge with older generations (Boomers and X) in the workplace. For example, Gen Y & Z have fantastic knowledge of technology and Gen X and Boomers have sound experience of conducting business. This cross generational mentoring is a valuable resource that needs to be made the most of.
There is already the desire for this mentoring between generations, but the trick is to deliver a working environment that encourages, supports and facilitates this sense of knowledge sharing and mini communities within businesses.
One of the most important things highlighted in the research was the need for a greater amount of choice in the workplace. This level of choice refers to the selection of workstations and less dedicated workplaces and increased flexibility. Generation Z are looking to make the office and their work fit in around their lifestyles, not the other way around which we have seen more traditionally.
This focus on creating an environment where individuals can have control over where, how and when they want to work is becoming more essential. With the rise of smart working, companies are looking to deliver a working environment that is more integrated with our daily routines.
Biophilic inspiration is facilitating great natural light, opening spaces and incorporating nature in the workplace. It allows us to escape the more oppressive, slightly claustrophobic office space and it is something increasingly in demand by Generation Z.
Biophilic design and creating offices that inspire a sense of escape, are vital in allowing us to relax and breathe. Biophilic creates a desire to connect with nature and give us moments of respite to help us forget where we are and re energise while at work.
Technology makes us faster and more efficient, but it can be overpowering to the senses, and we know this over reliance on technology can be damaging to our health. As we move into increasingly technology-dependent surroundings, the research conducted by Kingston University shows that Generation Z, as well as other generations, are looking for more nature inspired designs to create havens of retreat.
More active workplaces, with greater wellbeing amenities, are being adopted by companies as they recognise the importance of enhancing staff wellbeing.
Generation Z see wellbeing initiatives such as fitness classes, cycle storage and shower facilities as the norm and they play a vital part in attracting the best talent to businesses. As the battle for talent continues, it is becoming essential that companies are providing even better amenities to their staff. Generation Z expect to have things such as fresh coffee, free breakfasts and unlimited fruit in the office.
Safeguarding mental health will also remain as important for the next generation in the workplace. Companies will do more to look after employees’ stress levels and be more active in offering ways to relax and destress in the office. Quiet areas around the office provide a retreat for staff to unwind in and initiatives like yoga classes and office massages are some of the ideas we can expect to see becoming more popular.
One of the key take outs from this research with Kingston University is the focus on building an environment at work that integrates lifestyle more than ever before. More daily amenities will become available as standard, and an enhanced expectation for flexibility from employers will be top priority for the Generation Z workforce looking to instigate change in the office.