One of My early tech memories is using the internet at cyber café as the internet connection was not so common to have back then, and I lived at least one-third of my life without the conveniences of mobile or high-speed internet.
In other words, I’m a millennial.
We all know something or the other about characteristics or working practices of millennials but now it’s time for a new generation to take all the attention: Generation Z, or people born between years 1996-2012.
Millennials have made many major changes in the working conditions and office culture in particular. For example flexible and collaborative work environment, telecommuting, and workplace benefits aimed at better work-life balance (i.e. things like flexible working hours and work from home).
In some ways, the collaborative nature of architectural practice has made architecture firms better prepared for millennial influence in terms of workplace engagement. However, like many other professions, architecture firms are still working to create a culture that embraces the benefits demanded by the large population of millennials. But since the oldest of this generation are nearing 40 and as we envision the practice of the future, it is now to the subsequent generation—Gen Z— that we must look spanning today’s school and college students, the oldest of who would be soon joining the workplaces.
Millennials were considered the first “global” generation with the development of the internet, but as more of the world comes online — Generation Z is becoming more global in their thinking, interactions, and relatability. As they are in sync with the global changing trends since they got into architectural school, they are more inspired and are ready to deliver what they see on their desktops, phones, and tablets.
An Ideal Workplace
Talking about their ideology of the workplace, Gen-Z expects a certain level of premium experience at offices as the bulk of their time is spent there. Their expectation is understandable since today’s employee is not looking at the office as a place where they go to finish work but as an extension of their beliefs and values. The glass-walled conference rooms and open-seating office spaces that have come to define the modern workplace for millennial may not work for this next generation. They don’t like the idea of sitting in a glass room and collaborating all day but, want independent time to work on projects. Collaborative spaces will be used differently. Since this generation is more comfort seeker and is greatly influenced by aesthetics than millennials, the workplaces also need to have a more comfortable environment and a nice interior. The open office spaces that millennials have encouraged over the last decade are all well and good, but areas for quiet work, phone calls, and private discussions are very important to Gen Z.
Gen-Z with Green Thumbs
Just like millennials, Gen-Z is pragmatic, has much more exposure to climatic changes, thus, they are more attracted to create a positive impact in society. This generation is the most sustainability-focused generation ever and would take environmentally sound architectural practices to next level. They’re looking for renewable energy sources within build blocks, sharing resources, and supporting surrounding independent businesses. Green would be taken mainstream and better connection with nature will be seen along with low energy buildings and smart appliances. Hence, we can expect more sustainable design practices from Gen-Z.
A Minimalistic Design approach to aesthetics
While millennial architects are struggling to provide maximum utilization of smaller spaces and creating multi-functional areas, Gen-Z will be more into how to make spaces aesthetically appealing that are picture perfect for instagram and want everything to look good along with creating equally functional spaces. Since, this generation actively dislikes the idea of having too grandeur spaces, designs by them would be minimalistic yet comfortable. Minimalism today is associated with a cool, calm color palette, sleek lines and empty space. Gen-Z is embracing a more edited look, clearing knick-knacks and going for chic and simple aesthetics. They believe in quality over quantity. The building designs of future are all about flexibility, sustainability and minimalism, which are easy to live in, yet stylish and unobtrusive.
This generation has a high level of literacy when it comes to technology. Young architects are filled with creative ideas and their high level of technical aptitude will make an impact on outdated design and construction methods. With technology rapidly advancing as it is, Gen-Z will be able to bring promising skills and values that will benefit the profession as well as environment on a global level. As this generation continues to grow and develop alongside software and new techniques and materials, we will see the smooth global professional exchange, bridging the gaps between different countries and bringing more cultural exchange all around the world. Most importantly, consciousness of environmental challenges we face globally is converting into eco-friendly lifestyles. It’s a change worth celebrating.