Adapting Workspaces For the Next Generation

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Chair of the Month

Alex Kerr
Alex Kerr
Keen to pursue his passion for design and business Alex Kerr joined his father’s business in 2007 as a project manager, dedicating himself to the business. He was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in 2020 and is now the Chief Executive Officer. Under his leadership, Kerr has set new growth and strategy goals, with 2020 becoming the best year of financial performance in over 35 years of trading. This was then surpassed in 2021 with a record £4.4m turnover, and profitability jumping by 86% when compared to 2019 figures. This success has continued in 2022, with Kerr delivering their largest ever fit-out project and in 2023, there are goals in place to continue that growth.

Alex Kerr of Kerr Office Group shares five principles to help attract and engage Gen Z.

As the first digitally native generation, Gen Z brings a fresh perspective to the ever-changing world of work. This generation’s work ethic, preferences in work styles and expectations of a workspace differ significantly from previous generations, making it essential for companies to understand their unique perspectives and adapt outdated workspaces to attract and engage this growing cohort.

Forbes projects that 27% of workers will be part of this generation by 2025. With that in mind, it’s important leaving it much longer before rethinking your office space to ensure it is designed to cater to their needs.

Here are five principles to help attract and engage this generation.

1. Embrace Technology to Enhance Employee Experiences

Growing up with mobile phones, laptops and smart technology, it’s unsurprising that Gen Zers are renowned for their tech-savviness and digital fluency. It’s no surprise then that they also expect their workplaces to be equipped with modern technologies.

Integration of tech to streamline tasks and foster productivity may be relatively new to some companies, but Gen Z are very likely to expect smart office solutions. Think automated temperature control, smart lighting systems and digital assistants for routine tasks. Integrating Internet of Things (IoT) devices to create a seamlessly connected environment demonstrates you recognize the value of technology in not only enhancing productivity, but also improving the experience for your people.

It’s time to consider more immersive tech, such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) where possible. These technologies can revolutionize colleague training and meetings, making them more interactive, immersive, and engaging.

2. Facilitate Collaboration and Teamwork

Collaboration is second nature to Gen Z, and they thrive in team-oriented environments. To nurture this aspect of their work style, companies need to design their offices in a way that promotes interaction and socializing.

Creating breakout areas, informal meeting spaces, and collaborative zones can serve as creative hubs for brainstorming and problem-solving. Agile workstations that can be easily rearranged according to a project’s need can empower Gen Z colleagues to adapt their workspace to the task at hand, fully utilizing time spent in the office.

3. Prioritize Well-being and Mental Health

Gen Z places a high value on work-life balance and mental health. Employers can support their well-being by designing spaces that promote physical and mental wellness. Ergonomic furniture, standing desks, and adjustable chairs can help prevent physical strain and discomfort during long work hours.

Natural light and biophilic design elements, such as indoor plants and greenery, can create a more refreshing and calming atmosphere, positively impacting employees’ mental health and productivity.

In addition to the physical environment, companies should think about the mental health resources they offer, such as counseling services or dedicated meditation spaces, to support employees’ emotional well-being.

4. Align Your Workspace With Company Values

According to Forbes, purpose-led businesses that hold accreditations such as a B-Corp certification are 5.3 times more likely to retain their Gen Z employees. B-Corps and similar accreditations that endorse social, D&I and environmental values can act as the deciding factor when choosing to join a business.

Employers can integrate their core values into the physical workspace through thoughtful design elements and branding. Displaying mission statements, company values, and success stories on walls or digital screens can inspire a sense of purpose among Gen Z employees.

Sustainable practices are also highly valued by this generation. Employers can demonstrate environmental responsibility by encouraging recycling, using sustainable products and implementing energy-efficient measures in the office.

5. Encourage Flexibility and Remote Work

Unlike generations before, home and hybrid working is second nature to this generation, many of whom experienced studying from home as significant parts of their education. Gen Z seek independence and work flexibility. Companies can attract and retain top young talent by adopting a hybrid work model that allows employees to work both remotely and in the office. By leveraging technology, businesses can enable seamless remote collaboration and virtual meetings, ensuring that remote workers remain integrated with their in-office counterparts.

The Future Workforce

The workplace of the future must cater to the evolving needs of this dynamic generation, paving the way for innovation, growth, and success in the years to come. Understanding and embracing the preferences of Gen Z will undoubtedly position forward-thinking companies at the forefront of attracting and retaining top talent in an ever-changing job market.

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