Until computers entered the mainstream in the mid-1990s, office tools consisted of a phone, a fax machine and a rolodex, which you kept on your desk in your office. As a result, some Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers like quiet, defined spaces of their own.
On the other hand, Millennials and the younger Gen Z have experienced the Third Industrial Revolution of computer technology. They question the concept of a physical ‘office’, since tablets, laptops and smartphones can access work remotely. When they do work at fixed locations, they expect them to reflect the connected world they inhabit.
We take a look at these generation gaps and how to design a commercial interior fitout that satisfies all ages.
Incorporating ‘wellness’ design elements into the workplace is becoming increasingly common.
It’s a concept embraced by the younger generations - particularly in the context of how environment impacts us. Younger employees expect excellent air conditioning, filtered water, natural light and non-defined areas for interaction.
Another way Millennials are changing the workplace is biophilia. This is where the natural landscape is brought into the office - a mini forest of trees, garden beds, a waterfall or koi pond. These can be actual or a clever simulation using HD screens and hidden speakers supplying a natural soundtrack.
Connecting with other people is an important extension of wellness. A kitchen with a communal table encourages inter-generational communication.
The office ping pong table may be a Millennial cliché, but it’s also a symbol of how play and playfulness inform the modern office.
Another strategy is an open central stairwell. Not only does this promote fitness, it allows for casual exchanges as people meet between floors. Older and younger employees are brought together unintentionally through intentional design, resulting in conversations leading to new collaborations.
Another way to break down generational barriers is to create an interior fitout based on teams, not departments. Millennials resent being pigeon-holed and expect to contribute to areas where they have a personal interest – even if this means crossing departmental lines.
Traditionally, departments are physically separated. But by using a design technique called “functional inconvenience”, workplaces are redesigned to accommodate teams, not departments. These bring together people with different skill sets and put the focus on project results while discouraging siloing.
Centralised kitchens and lounges are also a functional inconvenience strategy. Encouraging people to step outside their departmental comfort zones helps promote new conversations, exchanges of ideas and fruitful collaborations.
These are just some of the ways in which generational barriers can be broken down in the workplace. Contact Premis to discuss your commercial interior fitout plans.