Generations and the Workplace – An Ever Changing World

Generations and the Workplace – An Ever Changing World

By Lee Boyland, RID, IIDA, LEED Green Associate I recently read an article, “Generational Shift,” written by Peter Conant, IIDA President. The underlying message of this article is how interior designers’ roles are changing due to the increase of technology in the workplace and younger generations entering the workforce, thus bringing about more mobile workers. I felt this really hit home with the projects a lot of us here at IDO are involved in – especially with some of our major clients embracing the “mobile worker” environment. So, what is technology allowing us to do? It helps us stay better connected to our work when we’re not at work, (think Internet, smart phones, laptops, tablets) therefore making us more efficient overall.  There will be an astounding number of mobile workers in theUnited States workplace by next year – 119.7 million, as mentioned in “Generational Shift,” a number that came from a Cisco study. Also on the rise are the numbers of generation Y workers (people born after 1982), who are currently at work with baby boomers (1943 to 1960) and generation X people (1961 and 1981).  Another eye-opening statistic mentioned in the article, from the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, states that generation Y will account for 3/4 of the workforce by 2025—that’s only 13 years away! Generation Y has grown up with these advances in technology, has had more technology in their lives from a very young age than other generations, and will continue to carry this along with mobility into the workplace. The new “norm “ in offices is becoming an environment that isn’t your typical dedicated offices with one or two conference rooms. The new norm is open areas with lounge seating, tables, banquette seating where workers can set up their laptops to perform dedicated work, have project-related meetings with their colleagues, or more casual collaboration. In this new environment, workers are communicating through e-mail and phone, but also are more face-to-face with coworkers. Peter Conant’s message also speaks to the ways interior designers’ roles are changing because of the new workplace. Designers are increasing their service offerings by providing consulting and planning services for workspaces. They are also looking deeper into what drives their clients’ new work environment and how they can best meet their needs. As technology continues to evolve, there will be more new challenges to achieving an efficient workplace setting!  Having said that, what are your thoughts on mobility in the workplace … and how has it impacted the work you do?

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