How to win over the young people knocking at your company’s door
Soon, Generation Z will gradually start joining the labour market. But what does a professional office need to look like in order to win over and retain young, talented individuals born after 1995? We asked Christine Rillaerts, Architect and Partner at Brussels firm Buroconcept, this very question.
By 2025, millennials – i.e. people born between 1980 and 1995 – will represent 75% of the global workforce.
Nicknamed ‘digital natives’, millennials were brought up digital, are naturally gifted when it comes to technology, show entrepreneurial spirit, and attach great importance to their working environment and the effort companies put in to providing workplace comforts and services.
They are being followed by Generation Z (individuals born after 1995), who are currently in their final year of studies and will soon be knocking on companies’ doors.
Unlike the baby boomers, millennials end up job hunting more than 20 times over the course of their career, usually choosing to work in places that suit their lifestyle.
It is highly likely that Generation Z, often described as curious and perceptive, at ease with technology and permanently connected, will be just as demanding when it comes to their job, models for collaboration and sharing, and their working environment.
As a result, companies seeking to retain millennials and avoid too much employee turnover whilst also attracting Generation Z will be forced to evolve and adapt to the times.
In particular, they will have to develop a healthy working environment that is dedicated to the well-being of staff as well as being agile, dynamic and hyper-connected of course. The majority of millennials and Gen Z-ers believe that technology has made their lives better.
‘I can’t see a member of Generation Z being enticed by a company that hasn’t integrated technological tools into all its professional workspaces.
This generation wants to work in a hyper-connected environment. It is Buroconcept’s job to identify a company’s needs and to integrate new information and communication technology (ICT) to that end.
This includes hybrid remote/in-person meetings and videoconferencing as well as tools for reserving meeting rooms or even work stations from the comfort of their parking space!’
The first encounters between millennials and companies occur on the latter’s websites and on social media.
It is a company’s brand concept and thus its identity that speaks to them, that gets them excited.
So how can a company strengthen its brand, its identity, through the design of its office spaces?
At Buroconcept, we ‘organise “look and feel” workshops within each company to help them really pinpoint their identity. For years now, our slogan has been “We Make an Office…Your Office”.
It doesn’t matter whether or not Buroconcept’s signature style is evident; what is important in our view is letting the DNA and values of the customer shine through in the design of their office space. Only then will our projects be a success.’
Today’s millennials, and probably tomorrow’s Gen Z-ers, expect more comfort and well-being at work.
‘This pursuit of well-being at work lies at the heart of Activity Based Working (ABW), which comprises tools called Activity Based Stations that support staff in their various day-to-day activities.
These tools, these spaces, can take the form of bubbles, silent rooms, different-sized meeting rooms etc., but the objective of all of them is to restore the link between location and professional activity.
Activity Based Working will result in greater mobility, increased dynamism, more encounters and more socialising.
We have been advocating the implementation of ABW for more than 10 years, which tells you just how much experience we have on the subject,’ adds Christine Rillaerts.
It goes without saying that ethical companies looking to reduce their environmental footprint are much sought after among millennials and future school-leavers.
Companies that are mindful of using their energy, materials and water efficiently and effectively can also obtain LEED certification, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This pertains to the energy, environmental and sustainability performance of their building.
But don’t forget well-being at work! This too has its own certification, aptly named WELL (Building Standard), which focuses on the impact of the building and its offices on the health and well-being of occupants.
In short, it is a question of selecting healthy materials and sustainable products, positioning lights to minimise reflections, facilitating mobility, movement and active behaviour among employees, etc.
‘At Buroconcept, we help companies who want to obtain WELL certification by designing offices that meet the requirements of the certificate.
Although we don’t issue the certificates ourselves, we nonetheless have the necessary expertise to assist those customers who want to place the health and well-being of their office staff at the heart of their operations.
For example, we try to incorporate as much natural light as possible into the workspace, ensure that the temperature and noise in the office are at a comfortable level, include sitting/standing workstations to encourage active behaviour, etc.
Buroconcept fully subscribes to all of the requirements of the WELL certificate, so customers are guaranteed to be left satisfied. In more general terms, we always aim to be environmentally friendly. Buroconcept has a duty to inform customers who are moving offices about the possibility of reusing desks, cupboards, cabinets, tables, etc.
Not all of the furniture will be in such a state of disrepair that it is justified to get rid of it or destroy it. Sometimes it might be possible to upcycle it, to customise it in order to turn old into new, which extends its life cycle and minimises the impact on the environment.’
Finally, these new generations are said to be aware of their own worth
. ‘In this case, too, I advocate Activity Based Working as it gives employees the opportunity to choose where they work based on the activity they are doing, and helps to empower them. Just like well-being at work, the notion of confidence lies at the heart of ABW.’