Currently, and possibly for the first time ever, five generations are working side-by-side. There is wisdom in experience, but also advanced new workplace technologies being developed. Welding experience and innovation together creates a space for successful and exciting innovation. If the generations can come together to create a workplace experience deeply infused by mutual appreciation and respect, that’s the perfect storm. The question is, how do we get there?
In an exclusive survey conducted by Wakefield for Envoy, 1,000 members of Gen Z, the newest members of the workforce, were surveyed about what’s important to them as they begin their careers. Some of the most illuminating responses centered on the role technology plays in the workplace, and the way Gen Z approaches navigating it.
- 78% of those surveyed said that job security and stability were most important to them when choosing a company to work for.
- When asked about preferred methods of communication, 43% of Gen Z indicated they preferred in-person discussions.
- Yet most Gen Z members (80%) agreed that a company needs to use the latest workplace technology to be successful.
With so many voices, opinions, and experiences in the workplace, companies need to find some common ground. New exclusive data on Gen Z points to some surprising similarities and ways for companies to use workplace technology and the values of each generation to bring people together.
Smart offices: the key to understanding and appealing to Gen Z
Members of Gen Z have grown up understanding that anything can be personalized. From ordering virtually anything they could possibly want online to individualized college majors, anything’s possible. It’s only natural that they’d expect personalization at work, too. 46% of 1,000 Gen Z members surveyed said that they expect personalization of the employee experience. Smart office technology fills the need for personalization and office convenience.
- 77% of Gen Z surveyed said they expect to work in a place that offered multiple workplace technologies, including smart meeting rooms, and AI-powered meeting management
Smart office technology, which is already making its way into companies around the world, is a revolution for office workers. Members of every generation can easily see the benefits of workplace technologies like biometric door locks where a fingerprint or retinal scan pre-screened people into the workplace at any time of day or night. With their preferences loaded into an overarching employee platform, the room they enter automatically adjusts to the user’s preferred temperature, lighting, and music. Sensors in the room track employees’ oxygen and carbon dioxide levels and adjust automatically so nobody gets too sleepy.
In this kind of employee experience, nobody has to be tied to a uniform desk. Task-based work, which sounds like an oxymoron, but is not, enables people to do work in locations best suited to the task at hand. For example, if employees need a quiet space for deep work, the office has a quiet zone where workers are not to be disturbed. Meetings can take place in lively, comfortable, living room-like settings where snacks and beverages are just a few feet away. Creatives might have an area that will set the ambient lighting to a level that’s optimal for color calibration. When visitors arrive at a facility, employees get a notification wherever they happen to be that includes the visitor’s picture so they can be easily found in the lobby. And of course, nobody has to remember to turn off the lights.
Use space utilization to create flexible spaces for all generations in your workplace to meet
One of the most important ways for different generations to come together is by simply allowing them to interact naturally. It’s essential to create an employee experience that fosters this collaboration, such as a comfortable meeting space or common area. If employees can book rooms, desks, and other impromptu spaces instantly in their smart office through a connected workplace platform, they’ll learn to trust and respect each other from their shared experiences.
In fact, Frank Cooper III, global chief marketing officer at the world’s largest asset management firm BlackRock, said that “research shows that age diversity consistently leads to better outcomes for solving complex problems.”
How AI and personal data helps shape a better workplace experience
Every employee has an opinion about the use of personal data at work. Older generations may feel that personal information like vital signs and various preferences are a private matter their company has no business knowing. Millennials and Gen Z, however, because of their life experiences, take a softer approach.
One of the most surprising things to come out of the Wakefield survey was the attitude Gen Z has towards AI and data collection. 75% of Gen Z surveyed would be willing to share personal information with their employer if it means a better and more personalized workplace experience. Gen Z sees it as a part of the natural flow of their lives. As one Gen Z worker said, “Companies already have all our data from phones, smart speakers, social media, and even from what we watch on television. If they’re going to take it anyway, we might as well get some good stuff from it.” In other words, Gen Z understands the value of their data and are more than willing to capitalize on it.
From earlier workplace experiences, other generations may have a strong mistrust of data collection, and not without reason. But things are changing. With global adaptation of privacy laws and strict compliance requirements, the days of the Wild West of personal data collection are over. Gen Z sets the stage for responsible data collection and usage, and companies will need to both earn back other generations’ trust and make a good case for the benefits one receives in exchange for information. The best way for companies to do this is to walk the talk:
- Make promises about the limits of data you’ll collect, how you’ll protect it, and what you’ll do with it—and visibly keep those promises.
- Present a workplace platform that customizes every aspect of your employees’ workday, and help them understand that the benefits they enjoy could only be achieved through the data collection work that’s the main engine of AI/machine learning.
If you’re a member of the traditionalist generation (born between 1901 and 1944), there is a chance that you could be working side-by-side with your Millennial grandchildren, who are between 24 and 38 years old. Gen X, what’s it like to work with your Baby Boomer mom? While that sounds like a great setup for a television sitcom, it is, in fact, reality, and all of us, regardless of generation, can absolutely take advantage of workplace technology to lead the way.
Get the workplace experience blueprint for Gen Z and your entire workforce now.