Gen Z Workforce Desires In-Office Experience

New York, NY, August 29, 2023-"As any office manager today will tell you, workplaces in the post-pandemic environment have become more than just physical spaces,” says FM Link from McMorrow Reports. “They have evolved into a widespread network of sites, mirroring miniature cosmos, linked by technological strands and fluid, ever-changing standards and practices. Workplaces have also emerged as a top factor that shapes and supports the productivity and well-being of employees.

“As a director of workplace myself, I see this new reality unfold daily, even three years after the mass conversion to hybrid work models in response to COVID-19. This transformation has been rapid, with numerous quality-of-life implications for workers and those who manage them.

“The hybrid work revolution has coincided with another seismic shift in the labor market: the arrival of Generation Z on the scene. These digital natives, born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, bring with them a fresh perspective and an inherent affinity for technology.

“To harness the full potential of office spaces, businesses must design them thoughtfully with the goal of empowering and engaging Gen Z. But as part of that, it’s important to recognize the distinction between the circumstances that have shaped Gen Z’s entry into the labor market and their actual preferences as a workforce.

What Gen Z wants 

“Surveys have shown that 40 percent of recent college graduates actually prefer to work fully in person, in an office, despite entering the workforce at a time defined by widespread return-to-work policies. Another 39 percent on top of that favor some kind of hybrid arrangement.

“Why is this the case? Well, about three-quarters of those Gen Z graduates surveyed say they worry that remote models will cause them to miss out on certain in-office opportunities, like community building and face-to-face mentoring. They worry their careers will suffer as a result.

“Still, about 60 percent of job seekers already in the market say they prefer remote roles, which have obvious appeal for working parents or those who don’t wish to live within commuting distance of a major metropolis. Thus office managers today face an important question: How do they balance remote offerings, which are essential to attracting and retaining veteran talent in 2023, without disregarding the needs of the incoming generation of workers?

“The answer, generally speaking, is not to eliminate office spaces altogether, or even strip them down to their bare essentials. There are in fact a number of strategies that businesses can undertake to maximize worker satisfaction and productivity - from simple interior design to the very philosophies underpinning how and why we use physical space.

The office of the future

“Just because Gen Z workers by and large support a return to the office does not mean they necessarily envision returning to the office of the past. Health and wellness are significant priorities for Gen Z, and today’s workplace must accommodate those goals.

“Ergonomic design features go a long way to meet Gen Z workers’ expectations of a health-conscious workplace. Employers can provide adjustable monitor stands, ergonomic keyboards and peripherals, and supportive chairs to promote good posture and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal issues. They can also integrate sit-stand desks that, as the name suggests, allow workers to switch between sitting and standing positions throughout the day.

“Gen Z workers appreciate flexibility in other aspects of office design, too. For instance, workplaces can provide movable partitions or modular furniture to allow for easy reconfiguration of workspaces based on individual or team preferences.

“One of the main benefits of offering flexible workspaces is to cultivate collaboration. Building a sense of community is one of the driving factors behind Gen Z’s interest in a return to the office, so this is especially important to ensure a full and productive work experience for them.

“To do this, businesses can incorporate open areas with comfortable seating arrangements, and outfit them with whiteboards and easels with large notepads to encourage spontaneous discussions and idea sharing. These spaces can be equipped with technology, like large flat-screen displays and digital collaboration tools that allow remote workers to participate in these activities as well.

“While collaboration is a key element of the appeal of in-office work to Gen Z, workers of this generation also appreciate quiet areas for focused work. To foster this impulse, businesses can provide designated quiet zones or individual work pods where employees can work without distractions or interruptions. They can also incorporate acoustic materials, soundproofing, or white noise systems to create a peaceful environment in these specialized spaces.”