For the most part, there are four generations that make up today’s workplace:
- Baby Boomers: born between 1946-1964
- Generation X: born between 1965-1980
- Millennials: born between 1981-1996
- Generation Z: born between 1997- 2011
Each of these generations were brought up in different times and had different experiences. For instance, Baby Boomers grew up in a time where a large portion of the news came from newspapers. On the other hand, most Gen Z’ers have never even contemplated subscribing to a newspaper.
General Characteristics of each Generation
Growing up making telephone calls and writing letters, Baby Boomers have strong interpersonal skills; thus, they value relationships.
This cohort had more educational and career opportunities than the previous generation, so they have a better focus on their goals and are achievement-oriented.
Believing in the hierarchical work system, most Baby Boomers have a competitive mindset. They are very hard working and are defined by their professional achievements.
Unlike traditionalists and Boomers, they are more resilient to work space changes and less committed to a single employer.
Desire Balance in Life
Unlike their previous generation, Gen X’ers put an emphasis on work/life balance. They believe in working to live instead of living to work.
Gen X saw a dramatic rise in the number of women joining the workforce. This influx of women being independent has led to the generation having individual attitudes.
Value Collaboration & Teamwork
Millennials are more open to the idea of teamwork and collaboration than previous generations.
They change jobs (often)
Where Boomers and Gen X believed that rolling stones gather no moss, Millennials believe in grabbing the best opportunity. Hence, they do not hesitate to change their jobs when a better opportunity may be available.
Salary isn’t Everything
Millennials don’t often regard their salary as their number one priority. They value learning opportunities, personal development, perks, and benefits.
Members of Gen Z grew up with the internet and have little to no issues adapting to new technology. They are welcoming of technological evolution and unafraid of change in this aspect.
This group grew up watching their parents suffer through the 2008 financial crisis and find confidence in holding onto a job. Financially, they are more secure with their money than previous generations and can be frugal in comparison.
Unlike their Millennial cohorts, members of Generation Z prefer independence rather than collaboration when working. They can see meetings and other group activities as inefficient.
Preferences in the Work Space
A recent study explained the overall preference each generation has for work space function and structure. The choices are based on what factors are most and least valuable to each cohort.
In general, Baby Boomers are particular about having their own acoustic privacy. Their focused minds don’t like buzzing and a loud environment. Therefore, they are the least enthused about an engaging work space and prefer the solace of working in their own space.
Unlike Boomers, most Gen X members like engaging workplaces. They despise working in isolated environments, but in the same breath are very concerned about secure workplaces. Because of this, there has been a large emphasis put on enhancing security protocols and systems for office buildings in recent times.
Being the most creative and collaborative generation, Millennials favor engaging and joined work spaces. They are all about convenience in their office design. Their youthful and creative minds often lead them to demand spaces like small cafes and places for recreational activities. Offices on the trendier side are beginning to include places like gyms and small indoor game areas for their employees.
While Gen Z’ers are relatively new to the workplace, their preferences shift from the couple of generations that came before them. While they enjoy having areas to eat and hang out outside of doing their work, when they are doing work, they prefer personal areas to work in quiet seclusion. Cubicles may have been thought to be out of style, but with Gen Z members, they better fit their independent-minded personalities and could soon be making a comeback.
Designing an office space nowadays can seem like a science, and it should. The right blend of open spaces and private areas can have a large impact on worker productivity, affecting a business’ bottom line. An office filled with Baby Boomers should not have the same layout as one filled with Millennials. Understanding the generational differences in one’s office and tailoring an office space to fit those preferences can be the difference between a business succeeding and one failing.