Younger workers more likely to appreciate office time: Survey

Gen Z cites benefits of greater productivity, socializing, in-person training

Younger workers more likely to appreciate office time: Survey

Employers are not doing enough to use the magic of the office to attract generation Z workers, according to a new report.

Just 11 per cent of gen Z (roughly ages 10 to 25) say they are happy with the way their office is set up, reports Unispace, a global firm that creates experiential spaces for different brands.

But that workspace is important to these younger workers: Nearly eight in 10 (79 per cent) feel they are more active when working in the office, compared with 66 per cent among older workers,

Sixty per cent of gen Z workers also say that work-from-home restrictions made them value the office more, compared with 43 per cent among older workers.

Read more: RBC wants workers in the office more often

“Employers are seemingly failing to utilize the power of the office to attract these individuals,” says Stuart Finnie, head of design at Unispace.

"With gen Zers now accounting for around a third of the global population, for employers looking to beat the competition, considerations must be made to improve the quality of the environments they provide. Those employers who consider their workplace and generational needs, will be able to not only engage and retain their best talent, but also attract new staff in our current candidate-led jobs market."

Why it matters

While gen Z workers are digital natives born into a world of peak tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion, they also value structure, socialization and support that a physical office provides, according to the report.

More than three-quarters (78 per cent) of these young workers find it easier to bond with colleagues in the workplace, and 81 per cent feel disconnected from their peers when working from home, finds the survey of 3,000 workers that include 1,000 gen Z-ers.

Read more: Poor hiring process turns 3 in 4 gen Z applicants away

They also value learning and working with others: 80 per cent indicate that access to training would encourage them back to the workplace, and the same percentage would be happier to return to the office if they knew their team is going to be there.

"While younger generations may face the stereotype of being a 'digital-only' group of workers, our research clearly shows that they prioritize the ability to learn from others face to face. And despite prevailing technology, nothing can replace the sense of belonging that in-person socialization can bring,” says Finnie.

“While younger workers generally have access to technology and the digital skills to work remotely long-term, our research suggests that this group values the opportunity, collaboration, and support that a physical office provides more than any other age group.”

Restructuring the office

When restructuring the office for younger workers, design gimmicks and ping pong tables just don’t cut it anymore, according to Oktra, an office design and build company in the U.K.

This is because the focus for gen Z – and also millennials (ages 26 to 41) – has shifted towards “real purpose and an ability to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle”.

Read more: Easing the return to the workplace

“The adjustments that were made to the standard 9-5 have left their mark on young people wanting more flexibility and control in their working lives,” it says.

“This is a significant change and while these demands may seem a long way away from the traditional expectations pre-pandemic, companies have an opportunity to readdress the balance in the workplace through intelligent design, new ways of working and modern solutions.”

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