An Office for Generations X, Y, and Z. How to Design a Comfortable Office for a Mixed Generations Team.
Equipping a comfortable office is critical if you need to increase efficiency of the team, reduce the number of smoking breaks and maintain deadline compliance.
Entrepreneurs, who only have an image of a business style office with a traditional cabinet system and restrained tones, can hardly understand what generations X, Y, and Z need. Some need privacy and silence, others need pink ottomans and background music. How to find the balance? Is it possible to create an office that will be convenient for everyone? We’ll answer in this article.
- How Generations X, Y, and Z Approach Work?
- What a Comfortable Office Looks Like for Different Generations?
- How to Design an Office for an Efficient Work of Different Generations?
How Generations X, Y, and Z Approach Work?
Gen X (born in 1963-1983), the hardworking generation. They build a career, want to develop and grow in one company. They value stability and opportunities for professional growth. Such employees don’t need constant monitoring — they know how to cope with the workload and get the job done without disrupting deadlines. Gen X-ers are ready to adapt to new conditions, therefore they are able to work in tech companies. However, they are more conservative than Gen Y. Gen X-ers keep up with strict work ethic in the company and can help millennials integrate into the corporate environment.
Gen Y (born 1983-2000), millennials, the free generation. They grew up in the technological progress era, so they better adapt to changes. They use gadgets and the Internet, process information quickly and like to learn. They are attracted to companies that value employees’ personal time, promote self development, and welcome an informal approach to work. Millennials take into account both what they do and what the workplace looks like. While the older generation values a fixed schedule and accepts a strict dress code, millennials are looking for innovative companies that allow freedom of action. Gen Ys see the office as a place where they can combine work and leisure.
Gen Z (born after 2000), the grown-up children. They are usually the youngest employees in the company. They do not understand the 9 to 5 schedule. To keep them in the company you need to create comfortable conditions in the office and make the work enjoyable. Gen Zs want to earn a lot devoting their time to interesting projects with a large area of responsibility. An informal office will inspire them. Such employees won’t stay in cubicle offices with strict rules. Gen Zs will appreciate a gym and a lounge zone.
How to Design an Office for an Efficient Work of Generations X, Y, and Z?
For Gen X-ers, cabinets with white walls and standard office furniture are normal. Generation Y loves open spaces that have recently become a breakthrough in the design of workspaces. Gen Zs, having reached the working age, made a revolution: they did not like the way everything was arranged, they wanted an informal office.
Here is a table of needs that will help you understand how different employees see a comfortable office:
The list is not exhaustive, but these are the main criteria for planning an office for different generations. Zoning, design and furnishings of an office predetermine how productive your employees will be. With a traditional cubicle office you risk losing the most promising employees, who will leave in search of a more comfortable space.
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How to Create an Office Equally Comfortable for Everyone
A considerable number of companies have a diverse, multi-generational workforce. If your company is one of these, you can create a comfortable office environment, given the three key points below.
Create a Corporate Communication Environment
A company with employees of different ages needs to create a common environment for communication. A recent D2L and Wainhouse Research study showed that employees of all ages want practically the same from corporate training: to know the current trends in their profession. The older generation fears to be replaced by labor automation, while the younger generation is afraid of having not enough knowledge to succeed in a rapidly changing market.
Assist Professional Growth
Every generation wonders about the future and aspires to learn something new to keep up with the demand. A recent D2L and Wainhouse Research study showed that employees of all ages want practically the same from corporate training: to know the current trends in their profession. The older generation fears to be replaced by labor automation, while the younger generation is afraid of having not enough knowledge to succeed in a rapidly changing market.
An AARP study discovered that 33% of employees over 45 years old worry that their age will obstruct their career growth. According to a Deloitte survey, millennials fear not being able to succeed during the coming Fourth Industrial Revolution, when digital and physical technologies will merge. To dispel these fears and prejudices you need to both provide employees with the latest tools and help them master these tools.
Find Out How to Organize an Office in the Best Way
The current trend is flexible offices where employees can change their workplaces during the day depending on their needs. Need to concentrate? Go to a separate cabinet. Need to call clients and partners? Use meeting rooms. Need an informal conversation with a colleague? Choose a shared zone. This is how you adapt the office for demands of different generations and provide areas for having rest.
More about flexible office: Flex Office: How to Attract and Keep Young Talents
A perfect flexible office combines the following zones:
- Personal desks zones. They are essential for people who mostly work in the office and need their own workplace. Gen X-ers would appreciate it.
- Hot desking zone. Hot desking is the practice of having several desks in the office available for anyone. Employees who travel, are constantly at meetings or outsourced might find it useful. Lockers are a good idea for storing personal belongings.
- Collaboration zones. Such zones require telephone booths, meeting rooms, and training classes with necessary equipment. In such zones employees can communicate with clients.
- Informal zones. These might include a kitchen, a gym, a coffee-break zone, a library, a mini cinema, a gaming zone etc.
Here is an office zoned to meet the needs of different generations:
Conference room for 12 people, Conference room for 6 people, Reception point, Kitchen
Printer point, Telephone booth, Conference room for 4 people, Coffee break zone, Lounge zone with sport facilities, Dressing Room, Conference room for 4 people
This office has zones for the younger generation:
- open space areas;
- separate tables used as hot desks;
- zones with workspaces separated by acoustic partitions.
There are also several private zones that the older generation prefers:
- meeting rooms for 4, 6 and 12 people;
- acoustic booths used for communication with clients or working in silence.
The location of the zones permits employees not to disturb each other.
What’s more, there are shared spaces as well: lounge areas where employees can relax, meet colleagues or do brainstorming; several informal zones with sport facilities etc.
To make your office as comfortable as possible, take into account not only the characteristics of the premises, but also the preferences of older and younger employees. It is a good idea to have a gym in the office, if possible. It will contribute to the health and productivity of your team members.
Conclusion: How to Design a Custom Office for Generations X, Y, and Z
Designing an office, remember to rely on the preferences of different generations. It will influence the interior, which in turn directly affects the employees’ productivity.
The theory of generations might help you better understand how to design your office. According to the theory, representatives of each generation (X, Y, and Z) have their own requirements for the workplace.
For example, Gen X-ers prefer silent traditional offices with personal workplaces.
Generation Y is more into flexible offices. Millenials want to work with comfort everywhere: at home, in a cafe or in the office kitchen. They also value recreation areas in the office: gaming rooms, spa, fitness areas etc.
Gen Zs want to work in informal offices that look like entertainment centers. They value personal space and avoid wasting time. That’s why they’ll appreciate a gym in the office, the opportunity to grab a snack at the workplace, or even stay there overnight.
You can create an office that every generation will appreciate. The key point is to properly zone the space. For example, use the flexible office format, combining several zones in the same premises:
- hot desking zones for Gen Y and Z;
- personal desks zones For Gen X;
- collaboration zones for all employees;
- recreational zones for having rest.
This approach will help to comfortably accommodate Gen X, Y, and Z in one office and will give them the opportunity to work without distracting each other.