The new generations’ interiors as scoped by international magazines
What is Gen Z, and what does it want from the workplace? Expectations, data and some answers from Forbes, FRAME, Domus, Elle Décor Italia, ArchDaily, The Times and Knoll.
Generation Z is defined as people born between 1996 and 2012 (generally children of Gen-X, born between 1965 and 1980), some of them still at primary school and some of them recently embarked on their careers, who want very different things from their spaces. A slice of the population that might not seem unduly significant but which, according to Forbes, makes up 40% of American consumers. What marketing and engagement approach should we be thinking about? Forbes mentions five key points to keep in mind when it comes to Gen-Z, including the fact that for Gen-Z this is the Age of Transparency as regards information, and the fact that brand neutrality is no longer a valid option in terms of positioning and communication – as in the case of the brand NASCAR which, having banned the American Confederate flag from its events, has lost some of its diehards while significantly growing its under-40 fanbase. Generation Z is the part of the population most conscious of the issue of environmental sustainability and the most well-informed, reports Elle Décor Italia, which cites the most prominent movements involved with safeguarding the planet, whose robust principles have a particular impact on point-of-sale decisions.
An analysis of the future for work spaces carried out by Archdaily shows that companies will soon have to adapt to the demands of Generation Z in order to keep a critical and creative eye on the world. Gen-Z is more prone to expressing its own personal take and remaining digitally connected, while it is less keen on collaborative practices and forging solid personal relationships. These factors mean that, while the millennials pushed for flexible working hours and the option to work remotely, Gen-Z will be more inclined to insist on pay transparency, the social responsibility of workplaces and the encouragement of entrepreneurial spirit. Gen-Z’s future workplaces will therefore boast advanced videoconferencing facilities, cafes with free Wi-Fi and well-designed lighting and sound.
In no time at all, the workforce will largely be made up by Gen-Z which, The Times says in a piece on some of the high flyers in large companies, doesn’t just question political decisions made by the companies for which they work, they also challenge the way businesses are run, their hierarchies and their working hours.
Generation Z is therefore about to hit the workplace, revolutionising its dynamics and spatial arrangements, as the brand Knoll also underscores with an in-depth report on the subject, attempting to forecast styles and demands by setting out three key aspects for workplace success as regards Gen-Z: proximity, privacy and technology. Spaces must be located near their homes and the places their frequent in their free time; they must also provide sufficient visual and acoustic privacy and be equipped with the appropriate technology. Lastly, there is the matter of cultural fit with the organisation. Spaces should take on forms and styles that reflect the character, the image and the brand of the organisation, while maintaining their functional intent.
In particular, a focus on work in Issue 144 of FRAME (January-February 2022), stresses the importance of a future scenario with workplaces close to home, drawing on data from research carried out by Accenture in March 2021, which shows that 74% of the youngest age bracket feel they are more productive and propositive in person rather than remotely. However, “live” doesn’t necessarily signify a return to the large headquarters millennials are used to, which chimes well with the global 15-minute cities movement, a concept in which most daily activities are to be found no more than a quarter of an hour on foot or by bike – FRAME then cites a number of examples of workplaces that respond to the demands of Gen-Z.
Lastly, the Italian magazine Domus launched its Gen-Z Observatory in September, in collaboration with the three leading design universities in Milan (Polytechnic, NABA and UniMI), which analyses six main themes of interest to this age group: designing a post-pandemic world, the dialectic between city centre and suburbs, nature, the ideal home, storefronts and colour, triggering a number of works and pointers that design will undoubtedly have to take into consideration going forward.