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The Future of Work – A Millennial’s Viewpoint (and Gen Z!)

Hosted at Bene’s showroom in Bangalore, the latest seminar from WOD India was truly informative. Continuing Bene’s ‘Talk to the Future’ series, the talk captured the intense speculation about the future work through the lens of millennials and post-millennials.

With potentially five generations working in today’s offices, it is increasingly difficult to accommodate the multi-faceted requirements of the different age groups.

Each of the six highly qualified and respected speakers presented a case study showing design approaches to today’s workplace and what is yet to come. The participants also recognised that there are still many ‘unknowns’ particularly relating to hybrid working.

Amit Lal, Workplace Consultant & Strategist, Sodexo Mumbai provided some fascinating statistics. He reported that members of the Gen Z cohort have, on average, an attention space of just 8 seconds – as opposed to 12 seconds for Millennials. Being true ‘techoholics’, 84% of Gen Z believe that technology will help build a better tomorrow.

Presentations included many approaches to workplace design with each seeking to accommodate different ways of working. As well as Amit, the speakers included Arvindh Prakash, Senior Real Estate & Facilities portfolio, Microsoft, Bangalore highlighting the needs of the ‘tech’ sector including the opportunity for user configurable layouts with workstations on castors. Most facilities manager’s worst nightmare!

Naseera Razak , Studio Director / Senior Associate, Gensler, Bangalore highlighted the use of graphics and colour. Whereas Kinnari Thakker, Co-founder / Experience Designer, 1st Main, Bangalore presented an alternative perspective. Her workspace is completely stripped back with decoration limited to biophilic additions. She described how authenticity was so important to the younger workforce.

Reshmi Shankar, Head, Facilities Management Group, India at Wipro Limited. As a leading information technology, consulting and business process services business, the company’s workplace creates opportunities for increased collaboration through social and workspaces, work cafes and restaurants. Wellness is also a key consideration including the opportunity for art exhibitions from social projects.

Prior to the Q&A session, Andrea Andreotti , Design Head, Ultraconfidentiel, presented an overview of the practices’ latest research project: Workplace (R)evolution – envisioning the future of offices. He believes that the sector has an obligation and duty to “disrupt” and introduce totally new ideas.

In case you were wondering ….. Definitions vary but here’s a breakdown of each generation.

Baby Boomers:   Born between 1946 and 1964.  
Gen X:Born between 1965 and 1979/80
Millennials (or Gen Y):Born between 1981 and 1994/6.
Gen Z:Born between 1997 and 2012.
Gen A:Starts with children born in 2012 and will continue at least through 2025. 

So when workplace expert Amit Lal was asked about his opinion about Gen Z being popularly referred as ‘Digital Natives’  here is what he had to say..

Moving on to Microsoft’s more agile workplaces and their agenda of hiring more and more millennials to their workforce, Payal asked Arvindh asked how they manage to retain these millennials who widely prefer to meet & learn electronically but also need a lot of private spaces for focused work. Here is Arvindh’s response…

And when talking about Millennials the important point that all speakers touched upon was that this generation wants to lead an authentic life and therefore elements like sustainability and wellbeing are of prime importance. And as a designer Naseera explored the use of design for the integration of healthy working, care for mental well-being, diversity and inclusion within the workplace including the local society too.

Payal Khurana, WOD Ambassador, wraps off with a few take away from this webinar discussion. “I think this seminar was unique in so many ways. Firstly, understanding the needs of Millennials and Post-millennials was illuminating as we harbour so many ingrained thoughts and misconceptions. 4 of our speakers were Millennials and their diverse backgrounds brought a rich variety of insights onto the panel.

The biggest take home was the importance of recognising the specific needs of younger employees and creating more truer, adaptive and neurodiverse workplaces that allow for a seamless co-mingling of multiple generations, providing a digitally enhanced yet human user experience to all.

Secondly, it was the first hybrid WOD event hosted in India after the second wave of the pandemic and it was wonderful just to socialise with the speakers at the beautiful Bene showroom and enjoy a ‘normal’ evening.”