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Balancing Office and Remote Work: A Continuous Debate for Leaders

Gen Z, office debate, workplace dynamics, future of workspaces, office culture, office design, remote work, workplace perks, meaningful connections, personal growth, professional growth

Flexibility, digital-first approaches, and hybrid work models are here to stay. As we look ahead to 2023, the discussion surrounding the future of the office remains ongoing. Leaders, including CHROs and CMOs, find themselves tasked with finding the right balance between the benefits of in-person collaboration and the preferences of employees who aspire to work remotely part of the time. Striking this equilibrium will be key in harnessing the potential of both physical and virtual workspaces.

Navigating Future Office Space

In the ever-evolving landscape of office space decisions, business leaders are often faced with uncertainty. With leases expiring and companies growing, the challenge lies in making choices before the future becomes clear. However, leveraging insights from the next generation, particularly Gen Z, can shed light on maximizing investment in both people and physical spaces.

Shaping Office Culture for the Future

Insights from ThinkLab, the research division of Interior Design Magazine, reinforce the concept of Gen Z as “Old Souls in Young Bodies” and provide valuable perspectives on leveraging physical space to cultivate company culture. Surprisingly, the research reveals that Gen Z preferences often align more closely with Gen X or Boomers. 

In an era dominated by remote work and digital communication, Gen Z’s desire for a blend of physical and digital experiences may seem contradictory. However, it actually stems from their need for meaningful connections and growth opportunities. To attract and retain Gen Z talent, businesses must adapt their future office spaces accordingly. While the physical office remains an important tool, it should not be the sole foundation for building culture. Instead, companies should shift the focus towards prioritizing their people.

Embrace the “Phygital” Experience

While Gen Z is highly proficient in the digital world, they still value in-person interactions. This desire for a “phygital” experience, a seamless combination of physical and digital interactions, is a key insight from ThinkLab’s research. While 78% of Gen Z believes they can be effective without meeting in-person, 88% of primary professional connections are made face-to-face. To engage Gen Z employees effectively, companies should leverage technology to enhance the in-person experience and strike the right balance between digital and physical interactions in the workplace.

The Importance of Purposeful Face Time

Gen Z places a high value on face-to-face interactions, but they are selective about how they invest their time. Traditional workplace perks like ping-pong tables or beanbag chairs no longer suffice. Gen Z seeks more than just a fun atmosphere – they desire meaningful connections and opportunities for personal and professional growth. To create an office environment that attracts and engages Gen Z, companies should prioritize mentorship programs and collaborative spaces that align with their expectations. By making the commute to the office worthwhile, businesses can cultivate a sense of purpose and fulfillment for Gen Z employees.

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