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There Are 5 Generations in the Workforce. Will Office Design Keep Up?

Bisnow article previews a session at CRE.Converge 2019, October 14-16 in Los Angeles

CRE.Converge 2019

With five generations in the workforce, companies need to design their workplaces around what helps their employees of all ages feel most productive and comfortable, rather than assuming what employees of different generations want, according to a recent Bisnow interview with Rivka Altman, a director of portfolio management at Invesco, and Shannon Woodcock, managing director of workplace strategy at Savills.

Altman and Woodcock will speak about multigenerational office design at NAIOP’s upcoming CRE.Converge conference in Los Angeles. Read an excerpt of the article below and register today for CRE.Converge 2019, October 14-16 in Los Angeles.

The article reads, in part:

With a workforce that spans five different generations — traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation X, millennials and Generation Z — companies today cannot build offices that appeal to only one age group. Instead, they need to consider the spectrum of work styles that their employees of all ages may have and design an office that can keep everyone comfortable and productive.

But some of the deeply held beliefs that companies have about generations liking specific styles of workspace are being overturned. Rather than assuming what their employees want, companies could do better to reach out to their employees and stay abreast of the latest trends.

“It’s not as simple as ‘boomers want cubicles’ and ‘millennials want open office,’” said Rivka Altman, a director of portfolio management at Invesco who will be moderating a panel on multigenerational office design at NAIOP’s upcoming CRE.Converge conference in Los Angeles.

The oldest members of Generation Z are taking their first internships, and some members of the older generations are working into their 70s and beyond. Much ink has been spilled over the idea that companies need to accommodate both ends of the spectrum, giving older employees larger, private offices and making room for the loose chairs, couches and standing desks that have become hallmarks of a millennial-driven open office.
 
But that sort of dichotomy may not conform to employees' actual work preferences. Many digital-native millennials can embrace and appreciate the quiet of a cubicle, while baby boomers can see the benefits in comfortable, collaborative spaces.
“A lot of the things we say that younger employees want — more light, more access to open space — I don’t believe for one second that those are specific to younger people,” said Shannon Woodcock, managing director of workplace strategy at Savills. “Older employees need them just as badly, but they may not be voicing that need as much.”

The key, she said, lies not in catering to any particular age demographics, but in considering the various “buckets” of employees who share the same work style and then making design choices based on productivity and company culture.

Read the full article on Bisnow.