Johnson Controls, a company specialising in “optimising the energy and operational efficiency of buildings”, has been conducting global workplace research into what type of work environment today’s young people are looking for. It’s called the Oxygenz Workplace study and is available here (note that there are different country specific reports available, including their latest one on South Africa).

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The research aims to understand how important the future workplace is to generations in the workplace. The research gathered information from 5,000 students at universities worldwide, and young employees from a range of professions, and has been running since February 2008. The aim is to understand which physical attributes of a workplace Generation Y most value, giving a valuable insight into multigenerational issues in the workplace of the future.

Creator of the survey, Dr Marie Puybaraud, Director of Global WorkPlace Innovation at Johnson Controls, comments: “This is fascinating research that pushes our boundaries of understanding when it comes to how young people view the workplace and the role it plays in their employment choices. The findings help explain the emphasis that Generation Y puts on the workplace, its design, the technologies they would prefer to use, the facilities they want on site, as well as their views on environmental issues. By undertaking this survey globally, we will gain a unique insight into the preferences of Generation Y, how they differ across continents and how these perspectives change and develop over time.”

The headline results of the survey indicate that 18-25 year olds view the office as an extension of their home life. This impacts the demands they have on employers who require top talent to stay competitive. Over 90% of Gen Y employees would like to personalise their individual space. Two thirds of them would prefer to have a flexible working pattern. Sustainability is also highly value, with 96% desiring an environmentally friendly workplace, but not at the expense of design. Growing up in a world where good design has become increasingly affordable, the Gen Y workforce expects their workplace to reflect their own ‘city crash pads’, with a contemporary feel. They are also the first generation with little memory of a pre-web world and having the latest technology in their workplace is simply expected.

Top priorities for attracting ‘Generation Y’ include:

  • Office location – Walking to work is the most popular choice amongst of UK respondents, suggesting a preference for an urban life with work and home in close proximity. 73% of UK respondents would prefer to work in an urban setting.
  • Flexibility – Gen Y’s prefer a flexible working environment, including the option to work remotely. 82% of UK respondents prefer to work in a mobile way.
  • Social environment – Gen Y’ see the office as an extension of their home environment where business and social life interact. Gen Y’s expect break-out rooms and a coffee shop.
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