Think of your grandparents, or your parents. Beyond that, think of the workspaces your parents or grandparents worked in. Without terrible effort, I imagine you could think of some significant differences between those spaces and the areas you now work in. From threshold to threshold, office spaces have developed and changed to adapt to social and technological fluctuations.
In an interview with Dezen, Haworth’s senior research strategist Michael O’Neill recently stated, “Even 15 years ago, creating office spaces was a pretty straightforward kind of activity.” You would have a desk for a stationary computer, an area on that desk for a stationary phone, and a well-designed desk chair that would allow for an employee to sit for an extended period of time without long term and negative health effects. Things were ergonomic, but relatively stationary. Now, office space requires advanced creativity and ingenuity, and not simply because it is trendy but because cultural, social and technological changes require it.
O’Neill suggests that design for new office space now requires us to think into the future; well into the future. Office space needs to cater beyond the Millennials, even though these are the folks currently making up the majority of the workforce. If you want your office to remain relevant for an extended period of time and want to draw in the best talent for the future, it’s best you start thinking about Generation Z. Yes, the generation that were born when you were likely rapping every word to ‘Jump’ by Kris Kross in the club, though thankfully also at a time when there weren’t camera phones.
One of the things that O’Neill says he sees far too often is the development and design of an office based on too narrow of a generational scope. With the accessibility to world-wide social media platforms and technology, more and more young people are engaged and knowledgeable on various global and societal issues and concerns. This means that the youth of today will likely consider a place of employment based on the way an office successfully caters to these issues. Be it environmentalism, lgbtq rights, user-friendliness for those with limited accessibility, you can no longer design a space and ignore the popular issues that younger generations feel passionately about and still expect to draw the best of the best talent.
If you are starting to develop cold sweats thinking about ‘jiving’ with the youth of today, don’t. All of the research developed by O’Neill can be found and downloaded here:
Best of luck !