Generation Z and the role of the workplace

As companies look to the future, Sharp’s research highlights changing expectations of the post-pandemic workplace

Jason Cort
By Jason Cort on 11 May 2021
Generation Z and the role of the workplace

Businesses have been deeply impacted by the global pandemic, which caused ways of working to change dramatically. Looking ahead, companies of all sizes are continuing to adjust and find new ways of growing and evolving. We at Sharp have been exploring the future workplace and conducted research into prevailing employee attitudes and trends. Here are some key findings. 

The role of the office is changing. The future of work will be different to the pre-pandemic version of normality. We have had time to reflect on established processes, refining those that add genuine value and removing others. 

There is a growing acceptance that most companies will maintain a hybrid style of working once restrictions lift, which will deliver greater flexibility for a workforce that has spent a year working from home. 

Attitudes to office-based work after Covid-19 may surprise you. At the end of 2020, Sharp surveyed more than 6,000 office employees (from the under 30s age group, plus a mix of Millennials and Generation Z) in small and medium-sized businesses across Europe. Our goal was to understand how the global pandemic has impacted their working preferences for the future. 

Our research found that just over half (51 per cent) agree that working remotely has made them more productive. However, the most unexpected feedback from Gen Z came around the need for a physical office space. While they recognise the benefits of remote working, they are still expecting businesses to provide office spaces. 

Companies can engage and enable Gen Z. We worked with future of work organisational psychologist, Viola Kraus to learn how the ways of working preferred by Gen Z can be supported by employers. 

As expected, there are many aspects of remote working that play to the strengths of Gen Z. “The virtual meeting space is theirs,” says Kraus. “In the virtual setting, the feelings of hierarchical boundaries diminish and Gen Z employees are able to speak up freely and express themselves.” 

While they demonstrate real comfort when using technology to work remotely, this does not necessarily mean it is Gen Z’s sole preference. Kraus added: “For Gen Z, work is about having a meaningful relationship where work melds with private life. So they need to have that social interaction, virtually and when possible, face-to-face.” 

For employers, there is a clear call from Gen Z to have both the virtual and physical office which must be geared toward collaboration and interaction. 

Jason Cort is director of product planning and marketing at Sharp Europe 

This article was originally published in the Spring 2021 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.

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