Embracing Gen Z: Creating a dynamic workplace for the next generation

Think Gen Z are work-averse? Think again

Embracing Gen Z

Think Gen Z are work-averse? Think again. Contrary to current stereotypes that Gen Z aren’t interested in hard work, our research reveals that 65% of Gen Z workers support some form of return-to-office (RTO) policy, a figure that exceeds the proportion within the general population, which stands at 51%. 

The fact that the majority of Gen Z workers are keen to go into the office demonstrates a willingness to learn and immerse themselves in the company culture in order to feel part of the organisation as a whole. And this enthusiasm makes sense, considering that they are a generation that undertook much of their higher education remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While this new generation seems to embrace office life, leaders can “lean in” and cultivate an office culture that appeals to the Gen-Z audience, including providing support for hybrid and flexible working that delivers to all generations and age cohorts. 

Gen Z needs the right balance – but they want to learn 

Many Gen Zs were, not so long ago, in an education setting that allowed them to complete their work (lectures, revision, assignments) flexibly – either in person or remotely, and generally to a self-enforced timetable. The contrast with traditional employment structures – i.e., some of which require 8 hours in the office for 5 days per week – can be a shock to the system and not a pleasant one. 

It’s therefore unsurprising that 94% of Gen Z workers agree that an ‘unofficial’ and more flexible RTO policy boosts team morale. However, irrespective of Gen Z’s desire for flexibility, they know the importance of learning and collaborating face-to-face, with a large majority (80%) stating they value in-person learning opportunities, according to a recent report.  

Gen Z’s hunger to learn shines through the speculation, and shows that while they value their time outside of work, they are committed to learning additional skills and are willing to adapt to workplace etiquette. Executives and leaders can reward Gen Z’s enthusiasm – and really all employees – by establishing rational and fair policies that allow for both flexibility and on-site learning. 

Work to the demand of the task at hand 

There are ways to offer flexible working as a benefit without going completely remote, or letting it become a free-for-all. A successful hybrid working model, one that hinges on useful employee interactions, positive office culture, and improved productivity, is all about task-based working: empowering employees to choose whether to work remotely or from the office depending on the demands of the task at hand. 

For example, employees could choose to work from home in the morning to focus on individual tasks that require focus and attention to detail, such as reports or in-depth writing, but schedule their meetings for the afternoon and come into the office to enjoy face-to-face collaboration time with their peers.

What’s more, collaboration extends beyond just showing up to the office, or “coffee badging”. In order to get the most from employees, the physical workspace must be enticing and set up to provide what is needed for proper collaboration. Our research shows that there is still work to be done when it comes to matching the office tech to the needs of employees – with only a quarter (25%) of companies having upgraded their meeting technology in the last year. 

Tech-savviness and productivity  

The beauty of Gen Z is that they’re tech-savvy. They’re quick to adapt to the tools around them, having grown up with technology at their fingertips (the first Gen Zs were only ten years old when Apple launched the iPhone!) And when remote working sometimes requires asynchronous work patterns, Gen Z’s tech exposure proves useful. 

However, when 74% of UK workers feel that they cannot contribute effectively due to static and inefficient technology, leaders need to make sure their tech is up-to-date and meets employee needs. All workers can benefit from easy-to-use video conferencing cameras that create a ‘telepresence’ in the room to enhance focus and communication, as well as remote collaboration tools such as cloud-based workplace platforms.

What’s more, developing AI technologies have the potential to make employees’ lives easier at work and free up time spent on more mundane and repetitive tasks, such as reporting. A third of respondents (32%) to our survey agreed, and said generative AI would allow them to do their job faster or more effectively in the next five years. 

Leaders can reap the benefits of younger faces in the office by adapting to the shift in workplace culture and understanding the demands of modern office workers. Overall, for Gen Ztofeel ingrained in company culture they need a healthy balance of RTO policies that remain flexible and fair, office cultures that align with the respective needs of remote and in-office work, and engaging and immersive tech solutions that enhance learning. 

Frank Weishaupt
Frank Weishaupt

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