The hyper-connected, growth-focused and future-ready Generation Z is transforming the average workplace into a more fluid, better engaged and technologically advanced co-working space.
‘You merely adopted it. I was born in it, moulded by it,” says the villain Bane from the Batman series.
The sentiment bears meaningful resonance with Generation Z’s mindful, fluid and connected work culture. Generation Z is distinctive from their better-known predecessors, the Millennials, in that they are not tech-savvy but tech-innate, not team-oriented but collective-conscious. Their ability to disrupt industries, specifically professional life, is not learned but inherent and, therefore, momentous.
Born into the explosive permeation of technology, Gen Z has sidestepped common practices to invent hyper-creative and uniquely functional work cultures. They live and breathe it.
As Gregg L. Witt, the author of The Gen Z Frequency: How Brands Tune in and Build Credibility, states: “Gen Z represents an unprecedented group of innovation and entrepreneurship. This group is focused on niche interests and if brands don’t recognise this now and get on board, they are going to be left behind. It’s also important for brands to adopt a global mindset, as some of the most significant growth is taking place in countries that are either developing or underdeveloped.”
Gen Z has already grown to comprise over a third of India’s and global population. This 23-year-old-and-under segment will make up one-fifth of the Indian workforce by 2021. As the world’s youngest and most radical consumers, their game-changing demands affect measurable transformations across all industries, specifically co-working spaces.
In December 2018, Business World reported that “2018 has been nothing short of a landmark period for co-working spaces in India making it one of the biggest flexible space markets in APAC with a massive growth of 50% from 2017” with domestic players constituting 68% of the total flexible space stock in India.
The same report predicted that 2019 would “witness a sharp growth by roughly 4x-8x of the current size of the industry”.
This growth is accelerated not only by the efficiency of the co-working model for large corporations but also by the appeal of flexible and customised work cultures for millennials and their Gen-Z counterparts. Hyper-connected, growth-focused and collaborative, these young professionals are interested in a work-life fusion that supports entrepreneurial and inventive thought processes. Co-working spaces are uniquely positioned to offer exactly that.
Most co-working spaces offer technological tools that boost productivity and increase engagement leading to efficient problem-solving and constant innovation; which is closely aligned with the culture of Gen-Z professionals.
For example, tech facilities such as high-speed video conferencing centres at high-quality co-working spaces seamlessly enable teams to connect with clients and stakeholders across national and international boundaries.
But while technology is the chief enabler of Gen Z-friendly workspaces, its allure is heightened by a combination of other factors. For instance, the ergonomic, yet swanky, architecture of co-working hubs reinforces a horizontal hierarchy through open layouts and speedy connections both digital and human.
It simply allows Gen Z to work the way they want to work. Given their response, it appears they want to work as they live in—a manner that is connected, conscious and creative.
Fusing their individual aspirations with a career trajectory, Generation Z seeks a cohesive life map that is stimulated by both professional and personal progress. As such the opportunities for networking and community-driven learning at co-working spaces are critical for them.
There is also a viral allure among young professionals towards a sense of ownership. Intrinsically motivated and mission-oriented, they value the freedom and authority of self-leadership. In a co-working space, even professionals in a lower rank of the office feel a sense of belonging, responsibility and career growth. This filters upwards through the corporate structure, allowing senior members of staff to more freely delegate work to younger staff who perform effectively in a collaborative environment.
The importance of community for Gen Z cannot be overstated. Therefore, most co-working spaces offer relationship-building opportunities to entrepreneurs as well as corporate or SME members.
Gen Z is motivated by the vision of an organisation more than material reward. They thrive in a community with a steady supply of challenging ideas and intellectual stimulation. Breaking down the compartmentalised barriers of the cabin-cubicle culture, co-working spaces offer both structure and nebular connectivity essential to this generation.
As a socially and environmentally conscious community, Gen Z is keenly in mtune with the unfolding crisis of climate change. They value spaces that are sustainable. They are particular about everything from eco-conscious accessories such as recycled paper, clay mugs and bamboo pens, to broader initiatives such as waste separation bins and energy-efficient spaces.
Co-working spaces not only align with but habitually promote this environmental ethos by using biodegradable materials where possible and peppering the space with natural plants for air purification. To emphasise socially empowering practices, co-working spaces also hold philanthropic drives to raise funds or awareness for pressing causes.
For example, a winter clothes donation drive, a fundraiser for a non-profit aiding education in rural communities or a panel discussion featuring CEOs of socially impactful firms.
Overall, Gen Z’s aspirations are profoundly and rapidly redefining workspaces and specifically fueling both the extinction of office culture and the evolution of co-working spaces, which will continue to occupy a growing proportion of flexible space stock in the country.
The author is founder, Hub and Oak, a Delhi-based co-working startup