Workspace Design Show

26 – 27 February 2025 | Business Design Centre, London

Surprise! Youngest Workers Need The Office More

Research shows Gen Z values being at work more than experienced counterparts, but they need the office to better fit their needs.

Throughout the talent crisis that’s emerged during the pandemic, one coveted demographic has seemed like a moving target: Gen Z. The youngest generation is the most willing to uproot for greener pastures. According to a recent survey* of nearly 5,000 employees, Gen Z respondents were nearly twice as likely to say they could be leaving their jobs in the next six months, 24% compared to only 13% of Boomers.

So the big question is how do you entice – and keep – the all-important younger wave of workers? That same global research holds some insights. Developing a better understanding of what younger generations are seeking may help us improve the work experience for everyone.

Younger generations value the office more, but they need more privacy and flexible spaces than pre-pandemic offices typically offered.

Value Add

From the start, Gen Z values the office more now than before the pandemic. We found that, across the board, younger generations have a comparatively more favorable view of the workplace, what it can provide, and why they feel the need to be there.

They look to the workplace as a resource: a place with the proper tools, higher level of technology access and the best place to be recognized for possible advancement. Gen Z workers believe the place to be seen and heard is at the office, and they want to be heard. Corporate alignment on topics surrounding social innovation and environmental issues are important to most employees, but research shows it becomes especially personal for Gen Z. They want a stake in the company’s points of view on social issues and they believe the office is the best place to exercise their voice.

Gen Z is more tech-proficient and uses it in a more integrated way in their daily lives. They are the first generation to be raised completely in the tech era, so having usable tech to make their lives easier is an important attribute to the in-office experience. But it’s critical that the tools are not only available, they also have to work seamlessly.

Beyond the social and tech benefits to the office, the space needs to change as well. Gen Z wants areas for social connection. They need a variety of team or collaboration spaces to work on projects together and they want focus areas that can be arranged to offer varying levels of acoustic and visual privacy.

Having intuitive and integrated technology allows for more seamless digital interaction – a key feature younger generations are looking for in the office that they struggle to get at home.

What that new workplace looks like will vary, but our research uncovered five things younger workers say are most important in their office space now. All of these rated significantly higher among younger generations.

  1. 75%: Privacy 
  2. 68%: Collaboration stations that support virtual work collaboration 
  3. 66%: Stand-alone workstations (Enclaves/Pods)
  4. 66%: Single person enclaves that support remote meetings
  5. 63%: Workstations that can be reserved

Why It Matters

Research finds that overall those who like working from their office are significantly less likely to leave and are significantly more engaged, productive and connected to their company culture, regardless of generational differences. Gen Z is the fastest growing segment in the workplace, so it stands to reason that companies are seeking to understand how to provide the culture and space needed to attract, retain and grow those key performers. Research shows Gen Z is the most excited about the possibilities of working in person, but the office has to live up to those expectations.

*Steelcase Global Research, conducted Fall 2021, 4,986 employees in 11 countries
**Originally posted on Work Design.