As companies start to push return-to-work initiatives more and more, they’re moving into uncharted territory. Employees are starting to realize what they need for a better work-life balance. They are starting to realize how important their well-being is. But companies are encountering a very unique hurdle – Gen Z.
If implementing and executing return-to-work initiatives wasn’t difficult enough, companies are having to learn how to cater to and accommodate an entirely new workforce; Gen Z. Certain parts of this workforce have never worked in a traditional office, and they might have their own idea of what an office should be. But how can companies push this group of employers to come back without knowing exactly what they want? Well, finding what’s important to them and incorporating those elements into your office design might just do the trick.
Who is Gen Z?
Generation Z is the first generation that has been raised with and by the internet and informational technologies their entire lives. This means they have developed a sort of dependency or reliance on these technologies. Day-to-day communication, connectedness, interactions, and learning have all included some form of technology throughout their lives. This makes the continued use of emerging and innovative technologies a necessity in their personal and professional lives.
Generation Z is a generation that has barely spent time in a traditional office. Parts of this generation might not enter the workforce for another decade, but the fraction of Generation Z that is part of the workforce is shaping the way modern offices are designed.
Here are 5 things that can help Gen Z return to work:
- Health and Wellbeing
These five essential elements play a pivotal role in shaping the way modern offices are designed and fostering a positive work environment for the newest generation of employees. In the following sections, we will delve into each of these factors, explaining why they are crucial for accommodating Generation Z in the workplace and helping them successfully transition back to office life.
Studies have found that one of the most important aspects of office design is building professional and personal connections. That doesn’t necessarily mean that these relationships and connections should be forced, but it does mean they should be encouraged. An article in HBR discusses how 20% of new hires will leave within 45 days. By creating connections with and between employees, they can feel a sense of value and purpose.
The office layout has a tremendous impact on employees, productivity, and even relationships. The flow of an office, accessibility to others, and communal spaces can all influence the way employees interact. Do employees have an adequate breakroom? Are there enough collaborative areas? These are all questions that should be asked when considering how your employees connect.
Largely, Gen Z doesn’t see work as a place to socialize compared to other workforces. They have a focus on coming in, completing, their work, and leaving, but no matter how much it’s avoided, coming into contact with others and their need to socialize is inevitable. It’s important to recognize the need and encourage that team connection among coworkers.
Our breakroom product collection and comfortable and stylish lounge seating can help build an area that will foster positive relationships. It doesn’t take much to recreate an elevated version of the traditional water cooler. Allowing Gen Z to build these connections gives them the tools they need to do the rest.
Gen Z is the first generation that has grown up with the internet and information technologies their entire lives. They have developed a need and a dependency on technology in both their personal lives and professional lives. Using technology in the office is nothing new. We’ve seen the rise and widespread implementation of automated systems that simplify everything from energy conservation to employee monitoring.
If there is a difficult or time-consuming day-to-day task, more than likely there is a way to automate and build a more intelligent workplace. But it’s the emerging and innovative technologies that motivate and intrigue Gen Z. They thrive on digital connections to others and to their office. Interactive elements throughout the office and using some of the newest technologies can make the return-to-work initiatives a little more intriguing for Gen Z.
Flexibility can mean a lot of different things. The freedom to come and go, limited oversight, hybrid work, and non-traditional work hours should all be considered when discussing the topic of flexibility, but there’s one more element that has become particularly attractive to Gen Z.
Working from home or remotely is the ultimate flexibility. Often, you can work when you want, where you want, and how you want. If you have a virtual meeting or a collaborative setting your home can transform from a private workspace to a boardroom with the click of a button. If you need to take a power nap, you have the freedom to do so. This is what flexibility means to Gen Z.
Having the necessary tools to do your job is a must, but we don’t always think of space as a tool. Gen Z has become accustomed to working in these evolving and easily adaptable work zones. This makes it important to give Gen Z workers the ability to easily transition from personal, focused work to open, collaborative spaces.
There are several solutions that we offer to make this need possible. Creating dedicated spaces might seem like you would need a large sprawling office, but it can be much easier than that. Flex spaces might be the solution. Modular furniture, multifunctional partitions, and divided spaces give employees the opportunity to move from personal work to teamwork. Acoustic panels help employees use spaces while limiting distractions, and collaborative furniture can create spaces that can be used for everything from brainstorming sessions to team meetings.
We’re all influenced greatly by our surroundings. The colors, patterns, textiles, and aesthetics of office furniture can all have an impact on employees – not just Gen Z. This isn’t new and has been a topic of conversation since companies have shifted away from the bland grey cubicles and poorly lit offices. However, the modern touches incorporated into office furniture create an enjoyable, modern space where employees enjoy working.
After working from the comfort of their own home, the local coffee shop, or in coworking spaces, workers are finding it difficult to find that same work-life balance and personal satisfaction in the office.
Lately, biophilic and natural elements in the office have started to become more popular. This incorporates natural light, greenery, and water features into the office. Along with colors and design aspects, these natural elements extend into the furniture itself. These elements can be found in our sweeping curved desks and cubicles.
Our curved modern pieces eliminate the sharp corners and rigid design found in other modern and traditional office furniture. Our curved modular cubicles have an aesthetically pleasing and space-saving design. Not only do they have a stunning design with natural designs, but some also incorporate adjustable height work surfaces to promote a healthier working environment.
5. Health and Wellbeing
Gen Z is arguably one of the most health-conscious generations, especially when it comes to the workplace. With the introduction of wellness rooms to help improve mental health and cognitive functions and in-office gyms, this workforce is finding how important it is to actively promote healthy behavior in all aspects of their lives, and that doesn’t stop when they sit down at their desks to work.
Wellness rooms provide an opportunity for employees to step away from difficult tasks, regroup, and work on themselves, but that wellness room can’t be used as a workspace nor is it intended to be. At the same time, in-office gyms allow employees to enjoy moments of physical activity throughout their day but that’s hard to translate during working hours. However, there is an option to promote physical well-being while working.
Standing and adjustable height desks help employees stay active even while working at their desks. WebMD talks about the health benefits of standing at your desk while working. This easy adjustment can help engage different muscle groups, improve circulation, and even lose weight. While some standing desks have one height or limited height options, our modern standing desks offer different sizes, many different height settings, and even different configurations that don’t only satisfy your office needs, but also employee needs. Our adjustable height desks are incorporated into some of our curved desk cubicles and ensure that modern aesthetic and promote physical health all at the same time.
When Will Gen Z Return to Work?
Return-to-work initiatives have become a real push and pull between companies and employees. Some employees are quitting because of return-to-work mandates and others are even filing lawsuits. It’s uncharted territory for everybody and it should be approached as such. After working from the comfort of their own home, the local coffee shop, or in coworking spaces, workers are finding it difficult to find that same work-life balance and personal satisfaction in the office.
Returning to work after years of creating your own workspace can be difficult. Why would Gen Z think companies can provide them with tools and an environment that’s better than what they can give themselves? Encouraging Generation Z to come back to work comes down to understanding them, and really all employees. It’s important to understand what they need. Find the ways you can give it to them. Most of all, welcome them back with open arms with the right environment.
Contact StrongProject and let us help you create a welcoming and inviting office!