While the present-day labour market is a generational mosaic, not only is it interesting but, indeed, increasingly essential to understand the motivations of Gen X, Y and Z. Each of these generations embraces a different set of values, aspirations and expectations, which directly shapes their views about their preferred workplaces. In this context, one cannot overlook the role that office furniture has in creating areas that accommodate the needs and ambitions of Gen Xers, Millennials and Zoomers. Could a modern, adjustable desk be more appealing to young talent, while more spacious and private environment is something older generations appreciate? Read on to find out.
Three generations in the labour market – different needs
Office design for today’s dynamic work environment has to follow and reflect generational diversity. Getting the picture of differences between your Gen X, Millennial and Gen Z staff, and using it to design your office can help boost their work efficiency, as well as professional satisfaction and overall experience. Interior designers need to keep abreast of trends to create spaces that meet the needs of all generations in the job market.
Generation X – what set’s them apart?
Often called ‘the middle child’, Generation X has a unique ability to adapt to both traditional and modern office space layouts. Gen Xers were born before the digital age, but saw the rise of technology as they were growing up. They can value both the privacy offered by their own desks and the togetherness of a collaborative open-plan office. To understand this dual attitude is key when designing your work space. Furnishing an open-plan office with, for example, these mobile acoustic partitions will ensure there is an ideal place to keep focused and have privacy when needed.
You can learn more about these partitions in Divide and conquer with the SONIQ modular partition system
Generation Y – the generation of the digital age
Millennials are a generation born in the digital age, which primarily defines how to design a workplace that specifically accommodates their needs. Growing up in a world of modern technology, Millennials developed multitasking skills, which older generations may perceive as an inability to focus. Modern solutions, mobility and flexibility top the list of Generation Y’s essential values. Millennials go for spaces that combine functionality with modern design.
Generation Z – new challenges and expectations
With Generation Z now entering the labour market, new challenges and expectations need to be addressed. Zoomers put a lot of emphasis on ethical and environmental values, which translates directly into the choice of materials and construction of modern office furniture. Authenticity, functionality and flexibility are key for them, as they expect their workplaces to be both stylish, comfortable and easily adaptable to their changing needs. These expectations largely drive the trend for hybrid offices, which combine remote and office work.
What do Gen Xers, Millennials and Zoomers have in common?
Despite their distinct generational differences, Generations X, Y and Z share similar desires that have shaped their visions of office spaces. Regardless of age, they seek workplaces that combine functionality with visual harmony, while being able to adapt to the dynamic changes in the labour market. Providing them with multifunctional and ergonomic areas is crucial. The flexibility of coworking spaces or hybrid working modes meets their need for work-life balance.
What our expert says
The key to accommodating diverse needs is contemporary office furniture that appeals to various generations with its modularity and readjustment options, such as swivel chairs with anatomical backrests or electric height-adjustable desks. These solutions allow the workstation to be personalised by users of all generations. Providing amenity areas such as kitchens and chillout rooms – suitable for all generations to recharge – would also be a good idea when designing offices. Properly arranged, with designer soft seating furniture and friendly décor, they help to integrate socially and relax
– says Eliza Donek, Product Manager at Mikomax.
How Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z differ in their perceptions of work
Today, the office is where even four generations can meet: Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z. They have differing attitudes towards work, as well as what they expect from corporate spaces. Born in the 1970s and earlier, Generation X is used to working in conventionally arranged offices, and may prefer private office space. The balance between privacy and open-plan is important. This is why having, for example, designer free-standing tree-shaped acoustic partitions next to their open-plan desks is a good solution. Gen Xers prioritise stability, which means they will rarely change jobs. They are also known to be loyal to the company.
For Millennials, on the other hand, it is important that the space in the office allows for spontaneous meetings and discussions, as well as supporting fitness. The free market and the globalisation of society have made them value diversity in their professional environment. The technology savvy Millennials are not as keen on stability and being loyal to the company as Xers are.
For your youngest employees, digitalisation will be the standard. They would choose offices replete with technology, offering total mobility and freedom to work from wherever they wish. Zoomers expect even more flexibility and innovation, such as for stand-up and sit-down open-plan desks that allow changing position during the working day. They will expect work to be adapted to suit their own preferences and habits.
What are the priority goals for different generations?
When designing office spaces for employees who belong to different generations, it is wise to remember what these generations value most.
Generation X: stability and security
For Generation X, who started their careers in the late 20th century, a sense of security is crucial. In terms of office space design, this primarily means well thought-out and ergonomic workplaces. Personalised workstations where they can keep their belongings give them a sense of stability.
Millennials: personal development and flexibility
Having grown up immersed in new technologies, they want a company space that encourages creativity, innovation and is flexible enough to adapt to their changing needs. They are driven by the principle of continuous self-improvement, both professionally and as far as their pastimes and soft skills are considered. They would rather work in hybrid working arrangements and be able to choose projects they would find interesting and allow them to progress.
Generation Z: work-life balance
The youngest among the generations in the labour market relies on work-life harmony. They believe in a workplace that is not only conducive to effective work, but also to rest and relax. Technology is key, and state-of-the-art solutions such as acoustic pods or lighting and air-conditioning control systems dramatically improve working experience.
Gen Z: hard times when coming of age
Zoomers, who were born between 1996 and 2012, have as a demographic group gone through extraordinary times. Gen Zers were beginning their journey to adulthood facing the unexpected hardship of the coronavirus pandemic. Problems they had in the labour market and restrictions in access to education left these young people with a sense of insecurity and instability they had never felt before.
Generation Z has come to be ‘the lockdown generation’ too. Born at the turn of the century, they had barely had time to get a taste of adulthood when the COVID-19 pandemic paralysed the world. They struggled with isolation and ubiquitous uncertainty, but these unique experiences helped shape their values, priorities and aspirations. Adaptability and creativity in problem solving became their strengths.
How does office furniture affect the motivations of different generations?
Office furniture plays a key role in motivating employees of different generations by adapting to their specific needs and expectations.
Generation X – functionality and personalisation
Gen Xers, born in the 1970s and earlier, find a combination of functionality and personalisation the most important. Modern office furniture like the ergonomic swivel chairs and manual height-adjustable desks and office partitions are perfect for adapting a workstation to their preferences. They cater for the need for privacy and isolation from ambient overstimulation.
Generation Y – a collaborative space
Millennials value a collaborative space. They embrace workplace chillout zones that encourage informal meetings and exchange of ideas. Resembling a game from their childhood, the designer Packman armchairs and sofas create a welcoming atmosphere to help teams integrate. Gen Y cares for nature-inspired spaces that combine the office with biophilic design elements for positive well-being and efficiency.
Generation Z – sustainable and technologically advanced solutions
Working flexibly is no longer a luxury for Gen Zers, but a necessity. They are adamant that their working hours be customisable and that they are free to choose where they work on their tasks in the office. They value companies that arrange their space into separate collaborative areas, places for quiet work and rest areas. A central feature of this approach is modular furniture. The design of Ligo modular cubicles offers almost unlimited possibilities for space rearrangement, allowing you to easily transform and adapt the office in response to changing requirements and preferences. Zoomers will find it not only a matter of convenience, but also an expression of individuality and innovation.
Do you want to arrange an office that meets the expectations of employees of different generations?