Lucy Minton, Co-Founder and COO of Kitt, explores the changing generation breakdowns within an office and how companies can adapt to appeal to Gen Zs. 


Today’s workforce consists of five generations and it can be a difficult balancing act for companies to appease all the different styles of working and expectations that come with each different age group. While these divisions have been brewing in the office for years, they have come to a head following the pandemic, as Baby Boomers and Gen Zs clash over returning to the office.


Our partners at Hubble recently surveyed over 1000 employees across different generations and found that Gen X and Baby Boomers preferred working remotely, while Gen Zs wanted to head back into the office, with 8% saying they’d had an actively negative experience working from home. So, where does this leave businesses that are devising their post-pandemic workplace strategies? Do they stick with the old guard or do they throw their lot in with the newcomers?


While it can be easier to support those who have been there the longest, we believe it’s important that businesses take the time to listen to younger generations – the future leaders of our industry- and consider what they are looking for when devising their approach to work. Not only are this generation entering the workplace at a time of global flux but they are more heavily influenced by technology, politics, equality, diversity and mental health than any previous generation.


So, what are Gen Zs looking for?


Despite being the most tech savvy of the office generations, Gen Zs are surprisingly seeking face to face interaction when it comes to work and expect any company they work for to still have an office. There are a multitude of reasons for this, but a key one is access to senior figures and scope for development that many Gen Zs associate with being in the office. In fact, many are prioritising the level of training a company provides over the traditional perks when it comes to job searching, with research revealing that the top three things considered amongst the younger generation are career advancement opportunities (95%), a manager they can learn from (93%) and professional development and training opportunities (91%).


This desire to still have the option to work in the office can also be attributed to their living situation. Like their millennial counterparts, Gen Zs are quickly becoming generation rent, living in shared rented accommodation or even in their family home. As a result of this, they are most likely vying for space to work from, competing with parents, flatmates or even siblings. Because of this, it’s not actually a surprise that 37% of Gen Zs wanted an office to do quiet focused work, often feeling more productive than their older counterparts, who arguably may have more appropriate working environments at home.


Beyond the office, Gen Zs are more likely than any of the other generations to prioritise a company that shares their values and beliefs. As the most diverse generation (49% identify as non-white), 77% consider a company’s commitment to diversity to be a deciding factor when it comes to choosing a job role.


They are also a very pragmatic group of individuals, who are actively seeking job security. For many, their first experience of the working world was at the start of a global pandemic, when job security became a real concern, so it is not surprising that 58% of them state that job security is a daily worry. Interestingly, this pragmatic view also applies to their views on employee benefits. While Millennials sought out table tennis tables and office drinks, it seems Gen Zs are taking a more traditional view, preferring good healthcare, pension and retirement options.


What this means for the office


With all of these factors in mind, there are a few different approaches companies can adopt to appeal to Gen Zs and retain the ones they already have. Number one is to adopt a hybrid approach that gives everyone the option to work from the office if it works best for them. While there has been a lot of discussion over whether remote, hybrid or fully back to the office is the right solution, a hybrid approach offers the best options for a company that has a variety of generations working for it.


However, it is so much more than just having an office space for people to work in. It is about the aesthetic and environment it creates. Based on their interests and priorities, Gen Zs want an inspiring and spacious workplace – what we call “agile offices”. We’ve seen a huge shift towards offices that are actually only 20-30% fixed desks. Instead, people are looking for breakout spaces and more ‘living room like’ environments where they can discuss and brainstorm ideas, while having the option to tuck themselves away and get their heads down on a piece of work.


This seemingly simple switch in office design can actually have a huge impact on productivity and sense of team within a company and will help breach the generation divides that have become exacerbated as a result of working from home.


Therefore, as businesses develop their back-to-office strategy, it’s important they consider the implications the last 18 months have had on their newest recruits and create a workplace where they can thrive and grow into future industry leaders.