How Gen Z influences change in workplace and school design6 minutes
Teens and young adults are the most tech-fluent generation ever, and they’re looking for flexibility, convenience, choice and tech integration on corporate and school campuses.
Move over millennials, workplaces are welcoming Gen Z. This is the generation born between 1996 and 2012. Although experts debate the exact start and end years, they all agree Gen Z is big: two billion worldwide, and about one-quarter of the North America population. The oldest among Gen Z can work, vote and drive.
This generation was born after the Internet came to life. Many Gen Z’ers navigated toddlerhood with the help of a tablet. They love YouTube how-tos and are globally connected via social media.
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Already Gen Z is having an impact on how architects and consultants approach corporate buildings and workplace design. One major architecture firm identified key principles to guide decision-making for corporate real estate to attract, retain and support workstyles of Gen Z. In “Gen Z World: Shifts in Urban Design, Architecture and the Corporate Workplace,” architecture firm HGA listed flexibility, choice, integration and convenience as guiding principles. We see these principles playing out on both corporate and educational campuses.
Here are examples of these principles in action.
As Generation Z moved from their parents’ homes into universities and workplaces, they brought with them an expectation for cutting-edge tech in learning, work and play. Universities were already moving to a model more conducive to tech by shifting to a method of teaching that is student-centric, with collaboration as the teacher.
With this shift in mind, classrooms need flexible and mobile seating to support team-centered activities and inquiry-based learning. They also must be outfitted with tech tools that make sharing information easy – such as laser projection technology with stellar image quality, compelling, informative digital signage, flexible camera equipment and easy-to-move enhanced audio.
While it might seem that the cost of giving classrooms tech makeovers would be high, our experience shows that bringing collaborative models of education into the classroom can lower overall cost per student. Maryland’s Frostburg State University and Mississippi State University are two colleges that have been studied throughout their transition to active-learning classrooms. Both institutions saw a decrease in overall cost per student. At Mississippi State, the savings was up to 25% per student, according to research from New Tech Tools Change the Mission of Higher Ed.
2. Easy Integration
On top of audio-visual technology loaded into labs and classrooms, NJIT integrates creative, cutting-edge spaces throughout the campus. “Breakout rooms” use Panasonic professional displays, Extron TeamWork Systems, and multiple “show me” cables that allow students to control screens using their own cable switchers. In a more public space, a video wall has become a collaboration center as well as a teaching tool, allowing distance-learning classes from universities like MIT to be broadcast to an entire class at once.
The University of Central Florida is using a video wall in a different way—to teach student broadcasters. Their video wall allows student producers, directors and technicians to call up virtually any combination of individual or multiple screen views, all fed by Panasonic state-of-the-art broadcast cameras.
3. Convenience & Choice
Research shows that Generation Z wants working environments that support tech at every turn. They also look to shape environments that fit their projects and activities. Giving them choice means more variety of workplaces for different work styles. Case in point: Huddle rooms, also known as huddle pods or small conference rooms, are collaborative workspaces that can be equipped with technologies to accommodate today’s bandwidth-hungry users. These areas boast great connectivity, supported by equipment that’s reliable and easy to install. Panasonic’s professional imaging and video technologies power huddle rooms all over the country so that users can easily slide in, connect with a wireless display appliance and be off and running.
Where we go from here
Staying up to date with state-of-the-art technology is the way to engage Gen Z and those who follow. No one knows with certainty which technologies will arrive in the coming years. But it is certain that when designing for learning, working or both, venues that enable flexibility, convenience, easy integration and collaboration are bound for success. As we innovate we must be sure we are increasing efficiencies, simplifying and streamlining workflows, and inspiring minds.