11/13/2020

6 Millennial & Gen Z Workplace Trends You Can't Ignore

Millennials became the predominant generation in the workforce in 2016. Experts predict Millennials will comprise 50% of the workforce this year and 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Certain companies report Millennials make up 75% of the workforce today. At the same time, the initial workers from the post-millennial generation (Gen Z) are beginning to enter the workforce. The Gen Z workforce will not be as large as the Millennials, who will hit 75 million workers at its peak, but it will have a discernible impact—one that will begin to be felt today.

Millennial and Gen Z Workplace Trends

Businesses need to heed many different factors and changes as a result of the Millennial and Gen Z workforce. One of those outtakes involves questions about workplaces and how they should be configured to address the requirements of Millennial and Gen Z workforce. 

1. Physical Wellbeing 

Research shows that sitting for extended periods of time has harmful effects on workers—including higher risk of disease and cardiovascular issues. Millennials and Gen Z workers know about the potential impact and want change. A great starting point is for businesses to ensure that their offices have sit-stand desks and exercise ball office chairs and create opportunities for workers to take breaks, go on brisk walks, and play foosball, ping pong, and other games with colleagues. The upside is that these wellbeing breaks can foster creativity and reenergize workers during midafternoon slumps.

2. Workspace Density and Sanitization 

The post-pandemic office architecture and workplace policies look distinctly different than those before the pandemic. To begin, density levels will look much different. Prior to the pandemic, open-office architectures were shrinking workspaces and pushing workers closer and closer together. Not only will the density between workspaces increase, but additional measures factors such as sneeze screens will be installed and new policies implemented such as regular sanitization of everything from restrooms to kitchen spaces.

3. Work from Home

The paranoia most companies felt about allowing work from home (largely a mistrust by management) has evaporated as a result of the pandemic when a majority of the workforce suddenly started working from home. Worker productivity and satisfaction increased. Most organizations and individuals still arguing in favor of forcing workers back into assigned workspaces five days per week from 9 to 5 have a financial investment to do so (viz., their revenue is tied to a workforce working from an assigned workspace in a corporate building). 

Before the pandemic, many Millennials and Gen Z workers were already pressing hard for greater work-from-home flexibility. 92% of them want to work from home at least a couple times per week. Now that workers have gotten a taste of working from home due to the pandemic, few want to return to the prior status quo and their assigned workspaces. As businesses work out their post-pandemic workplace strategies, they need to institute remote work policies and hybrid work arrangements.

4. Workplace Environment

When Millennial and Gen Z workers spend time in the office—whether in a permanent office or an on-demand coworking space—they want to a setting that promotes productivity and collaboration. Flickering neon and fluorescent lights create harsh light that result in headaches and bleary eyes. In their place, businesses and coworking spaces are implementing natural lighting configurations. For architectures where natural lighting isn’t possible, organizations are implementing low kelvin lighting that mimics natural light.  

Lighting is just one aspect of a natural workplace environment. Green plants provide Millennial and Gen Z workers with what is described as biophilia. Indoor plants have a number of benefits—reducing stress, improving productivity, and promoting health. Plants that thrive the best in workplaces include succulents, rubber plants, and peace lilies. 

5. Tech-Enabled Workplaces

Millennial and Gen Z workers are digital natives and grew up with technology and expect their workplaces to offer them the latest digital tools for collaboration and productivity—from Slack and Microsoft Teams to Dropbox. They envision technology as a means to improve efficiencies and break down communication barriers. Businesses need to ensure their workers have access to these technologies—from cloud computer, to productivity applications, to social media channels—and implement technology-adoption strategies across their employee populations. 

When it comes to coworking spaces and on-demand workspaces, high-speed internet wireless connectivity is a requisite. Workers also require video and audio conferencing technologies that facility communications and collaboration.

6. Flexible Work Arrangements

The opportunity to work from home is certainly one of the pieces to the puzzle. But other issues are just as critical to Millennial and Gen Z workers. Nearly 40% of job candidates indicate schedule flexibility is one of their top three career-decision factors and plays an important role in helping businesses to attract and retain high-skilled workers. Some of the issues businesses need to consider include:

• Flexible arrival and departure times

• Part-time work

• Hybrid offices—work from home, coworking space, or offices in businesses

• Choice and control in work shifts

• Compressed shifts or workweek

• Caregiving leave

The Millennial and Gen Z Workplace

Now that Millennials are the predominant generation in the workforce, significant changes are underway. As Gen Z workers into the workplace, many of these changes will accelerate. These are wide-ranging and impact everything—flexible work schedules, remote work, pay and compensation, corporate responsibility, and much more. 

Whether businesses have permanent office space or on-demand coworking space and rented workspace, the Millennial and Gen Z workforce is driving significant change. Organizations seeking to recruit and retain these workers will be wise to heed these trends and ensure their workplaces are configured to accommodate these evolving trends.

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