School’s out for summer! Graduation season is now behind us, and that means the workplace is once again in flux as young hot shots join the workforce.
The oldest members of Gen Z are graduating from high school, and the youngest Millennials are donning cap and gown with their college degrees in hand.
In the next five years, many businesses will be welcoming four generations into the office at once – Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and the fledgling Gen Z. Demographic shifts mean that over time, as life expectancies increase and people work into their mid to late seventies, the generation gap in the workplace will expand. This state of play creates a set of unprecedented challenges when it comes to how office space is designed, used and leveraged.
Generations co-existing in the workplace means there will be a very diverse set of experiences and perspectives at the table. Baby Boomers, who grew up before computers transformed everyday life, have to learn to understand the working habits of digitally native employees sometimes referred to as “screenagers.” Young people will need to adapt to how older individuals work as well.
All generations were raised to develop different working styles and have divergent expectations of work-life balance, corporate benefits, and rewards. This increasingly complex landscape means that office planners can no longer rely on gut instinct when it comes to designing the most employee-friendly workspaces.
But where do we go from here? How can leaders make sense of the rapidly evolving modern workplace? Many businesses are beginning to take a data-informed approach with occupancy sensor technology at its core. By jumping on the power of the Internet of Things, companies can use tools, like our own Condeco Sense, to track real employee behavior. A single Condeco Sense study with one thousand sensors will produce 22 million lines of data in one month. That means there are 18,000 pages of 1s and 0s describing your employees’ working preferences around the office per month.
Armed with all that data, office designers are mapping how individuals use their desks, breakout spaces and meeting rooms to determine what aspects of their current space miss the mark and re-order the office accordingly.
If, for example, the data indicates that Millennials and Gen Z only use their desks as a home base and instead choose to work transiently throughout the office, the office manager can respond by reducing the number of desks in favor of expanding more creative breakout areas. Office managers can also establish a balance between fixed desks and temporary hot desks to reflect the real-life preferences of their demographic split across the four generations.
By taking a data-informed approach to workplace utilization, office managers can gain great insight into what the four diverse generations are doing with space in the office. They are then empowered to build the collaborative, productive workplace that genuinely fits their unique workforce.