December 9, 2015
Research by Leesman Index (among others) shows how the design of learning environments influences a student’s choice of university. This thinking now also applies to offices, with the commercial office design sector creating the kind of facilities available on the modern university campus. A new workshop organised by furniture brand HÅG has discovered how Generation Z imagines its future workplace. For example, in the same way that a college library offers collaborative and silent spaces; the young people in the workshop didn’t share the current trend of shared workspaces but wanted a mix of collaborative areas combined with isolated working pods that they could customise for their own requirements and mood. However, Gen Z goes further than ever, in blurring the boundaries between home and work, with a great deal more emphasis on wellbeing and areas to relax compared to previous generations.
Four key themes emerged during the workshop which revealed how participants felt about their future workplace – health, the environment, technology, and innovative workspaces.These included hanging pods to work in, holograms on walls to change your working environment, interactive tablet desks which turn into beds, virtual reality rooms and communal vegetable allotments to provide ingredients for a healthy lunch.
A clear trend was the continued blurring between personal and work life, while many of the pupils stressed the need for relaxation in the workplace. This involved creating an underground ‘holiday room’ which contained a beach and swimming pool, ‘Netflix area’ and holograms which could project a tranquil environment on the walls.
The future office would have a health centre and gym – including a doctor’s surgery where you could book appointments at work. Allotments would be provided where you could make your lunch from fresh produce and colleagues would have a ‘Bake Off ‘style kitchen to cook together.
When employees need to focus on their work in peace and quiet they would climb into their hanging pod where they would work alone on an interactive desk. They saw a high ceiling as wasted space and decided that these hanging pods could be placed there, creating more room for socialising and leisure.
The importance of sleep was also raised – if you couldn’t get eight hours at home, why not sleep at work? One young pupil designed a desk that can be flipped round to provide a bed, equipped with a built-in alarm clock to make sure you wouldn’t oversleep.
Following a similar workshop carried out in Oslo, Jorgen Josefsson, Managing Director, HÅG (a brand of Scandinavian Business Seating) said: “It’s been really exciting to see how the youth of London and Oslo compare, both groups show enthusiasm for good design and appreciate the importance of a good work-life balance.
“It is also clear to see that Generation Z expect their employers to look after their wellbeing by designing spaces that enhance this and provide areas suitable for a variety of different tasks.”
The ‘Workspace Invaders’ workshop was managed by Open-City (the charity responsible for the popular Open House architecture weekends), who invited the group of young people to take part in the workshop and be mentored by 8 leading architects.
The design professionals were drawn from high profile British and international practices including Allies & Morrison, Buckley Grey Yeoman, Burwell Deakins, Jestico + Whiles, Orms and Sheppard Robson. The architects gave design advice for each team of youngsters, giving them the tools to bring their vision to life. The young people all attend London state schools and the workshop offered them an incredible opportunity to experience high quality design training.
The aim of the workshop was to inspire the next generation, giving young people the opportunity to design and work with talented professionals. HÅG (a brand of Scandinavian Business Seating) was also fascinated to gain insight from minds that are not blinkered by the stereotypes of office life.