Come in at 9, or whenever

by Doug Henry

June 16, 2012

The growing dominance of Generation Y workers is set to change the culture, structure and management of Australian offices, according to a research report we have just released: Generation Y: Implications for Office Markets.

The way in which Gen Y operates in the workplace will shape the future of Australian offices. Gen Y are having an increasing influence on technological advancement in the work environment and, coupled with changing corporate employment structures, we are seeing an increase in activity-based working.

Colliers International believes we are going to see an overall reduction in demand for office space as workspace use becomes more efficient.

Gen Y workers place knowledge above title and seek new challenges, on average, every two years. By the age of 38, an average Gen Y will have had 14 different jobs – that equates to one job every one to two years. This presents a real challenge for all companies with a desire to retain their best staff.

Gen Y workers require continuous and instantaneous feedback from management, yet dislike an authoritative management style. They want the flexibility to work to their own schedules – to break when they want to break, to leave when they need to leave and arrive when they need to arrive.

They also seek companionship at work, rather than just colleagues, as they function on a more flexible, social basis. This more casual attitude to work is leading to organisational networks whereby staff are placed by connections and skills as opposed to more traditional hierarchical, title-based structures. The overriding impact on the workplace is the need for much greater flexibility, where project-based teams can be quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively set up within the office environment.

The ability to work remotely is also increasingly in demand, facilitated by technological advances. This is a generation that wants to be judged on results rather than on their physical presence.

The need for flexibility to suit the demands of family and social life is also a major factor driving employment choices, pushing organisations towards offering flexible alternative working strategies.

This doesn’t mean that the workplace will become redundant – in fact, we believe quite the opposite will occur. Given the pressure on companies to attract Gen Y staff, it is important that the workplace has the right blend of social/fun space with which Gen Y can positively identify.

Gen Y workers also have an increasingly strong social conscience. A clear majority prefer to work for an organisation with a commitment to social causes than for one without. In relation to the built environment, being green as an office occupier will become more of a ”must-have” than a ”nice-to-have” in order to attract and retain Gen Y.

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