Quick, flexible workspaces for Generation Z hires

Your newest hires might be eager to climb the company ladder, but they’re not after your corner office. The young people who are joining the workforce today are radically different from the Boomers they’re replacing. They want flexible workspaces and adaptable schedules. They want freedom.

It’s not that they don’t want to work — quite the opposite. Born in the mid-1990s, Generation Z grew up while the country was coping with the fallout from 9/11, and they came to consciousness around the time of the great recession, in 2008. They are independent, frugal and industrious.

Generation Z expects to work hard.

Multiple studies suggest that the young people who make up Generation Z are spectacularly entrepreneurial. One 2016 survey found that three out of every four high school students want to start their own business. They also want to change the world: A quarter of Gen Z kids already volunteer, and many hope to pursue careers as social entrepreneurs. It’s not uncommon for a Gen Z student to start work right out of high school, avoiding expensive educational institutions and the debt that comes with them. They’re learning online and on the job, instead. And many say they’ll stay three years at their first job – tops.

Generation Z want structured, functional workspaces.

What does this mean for businesses? Retaining young talent will be tough. In addition to mentoring programs, challenging project opportunities and a positive work environment, experts agree that employers must be prepared to create new workspaces for Generation Z.

Unlike the millennials who came before them, Gen Z won’t be comfortable with open, unstructured workspaces. Instead, employers need to create workspaces for Generation Z with distinct spaces that support the three different work activities that most professionals engage in each day.

Workspaces for Generation Z

1. Refuge spaces for solitary, high-concentration work.

The members of Generation Z are digital natives, and they’re constantly connected. When it comes time to buckle down and focus, it can be difficult for them to disconnect. Create small, closed-door “refuge spaces” with soundproofing, comfortable seating, whiteboards and enough plugs to power all their devices. Employers might also consider making some of these refuges into Wi-Fi dead zones, to facilitate self-imposed exile from the internet. These small, quiet spaces can also be used for private, one-on-one discussions.

2. Collaborative spaces for group work.

Your Generation Z employees are at ease in the digital world and at the vanguard of collaborative online work. The ideal workspaces for Generation Z include shared desk and seating areas and provide mobile glass boards and white walls that staff can use for brainstorming ideas. Room dividers from Loftwalls can help create distinct spaces in open-office plans, and partnering with a trusted facilities support company can make moving walls and furniture fast and easy. Finally: Be sure to include screens and WiFi to facilitate communication with team members and partners who are working remotely.

3. Social spaces for face-to-face connection and recreation.

A small, airless lunchroom with a microwave and a creaky old fridge just won’t cut it anymore. Workspaces for Generation Z will require social “third spaces” that facilitate meaningful connections with their mentors, colleagues and peers. Same goes for that muddy coffee and candy-filled vending machine: These young professionals are foodies, and they want good quality coffee and fresh food. These informal social spaces give your young team a place to recharge, host casual meetings and build relationships with their colleagues.

Now is the time to redesign workspaces for Generation Z

There are more than 70 million young Americans in Generation Z, and they’re starting to join the workforce in greater numbers. Start preparing workspaces for Generation Z now so you can leverage their talent and energy.

Are you ready to create workspaces for Generation Z?

A trusted workplace change partner can help you create the workspaces you need to support your company’s youngest, hungriest team members.

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