When designing new office interiors, it is important to remember that we are entering a world of cross-generational context as we have never previously had. Research from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), shows that workforces spanning four generations are becoming more familiar as people delay retirement into their 70s and 80s, we are now living longer and also having fewer children. Recent studies have shown that 4G workforces are becoming more and more common throughout the UK. According to the Charter Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), most companies have no HR strategy for managing this age difference.
Cross-generational collaboration is now a must, but the question is how you facilitate through interior design and encourage agile working. On the one hand, the older generation is more used to a certain set of default rules such as the non-digital workplace, whereas the younger generations and generations to come are often named the digital natives, born into a world where the internet already exists, as well as working with mixed gender workforces.
“We’re seeing more businesses moving towards agile and flexible working models as a way of freeing up desk space and preventing the need to expand into larger offices. These modules are often more attractive to staff and potential recruits, such as millennials, who expect flexibility and have a different idea of a healthy work/ life balance.”
– Alexandra Murphy, Mix Interiors Magazine (Issue 192).
Employees of different ages have different expectations of what constitutes good design and working practices. The challenge of a good workplace interior design is how to meditate and to find a design that works for everyone. One of the first steps toward designing an inclusive workplace is to acknowledge and accept the difference in your staff members, there are some things you can do such as:
- Create agile working and zoning, have different areas for different tasks with a range of furniture to meet the various needs of the job. Such areas could include collaborative, private/quiet work zones, meeting, workstations and cafe/relaxation areas. This will allow for employees to pick where they work to best suit their needs.
- Providing sit/ stand stations like our Jot-Up so that your staff a variety of options to work stood or seated throughout the day. Alternating between sitting and standing throughout the day helps to increase blood flow and helps with concentration.
Design helps people personalise their workplaces, feel a sense of belonging and feel comfortable, thereby reducing everyday frustration and effort and increasing mental well-being and productivity.
Above all-inclusivity is a matter of effective leadership and the organisation must have a true culture of inclusivity. It is about being open to change and accommodating a wider range of workforce, offering them different technological solutions and platforms, and also flexible and agile working conditions.