Don’t trash traditional office layouts before you know what age the resident employees will be. As it turns out, redesigning corporate spaces to reflect a more open and modern style (as opposed to rows of cubicles and enclosed offices) can leave Baby Boomer staffers feeling de-motivated and disgruntled, leading to weakened business performance.
That’s just one of the interesting takeaways proposed by an ASID Webinar held this afternoon (Feb. 22) entitled “Do you know your X, Y . . .Baby Boomers?” According to the online presentation, which discussed the variety of generations that now work together in today’s corporate environments—Traditionals, Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers, and Millennials—and the subsequent benefits and challenges that each generations presents to the workplace, Baby Boomers subconsciously view having the coveted corner office—or any office for that matter—as a status symbol and use it as a means to define who they are as a person. (In fact, the Webinar mentions that the first question a Baby Boomer tends to ask upon meeting someone new is “What do you do?” rather than an inquiry about personal interests or tastes.)
Now while many of us younger professionals will undoubtedly have a very different viewpoint on this (I myself, being a strange mix of Gen X and Gen Y/Millennial ideals and a mobile employee, don’t place much emphasis on having an actual office), I can understand why maintaining these four walls at work can mimic a trophy on the wall to many. These individuals are used to working hard for what they want and making a name for themselves (the result of growing up with Depression-era parents who scrimped and saved), so it can be quite disheartening not to have a physical manifestation of that accomplishment. Not to mention that having the option to shut the door during the day is a definite perk when needing privacy—or a nap!
How do you incorporate generational preferences into your designs? Is it possible to make all generations happy when designing innovative corporate spaces?