Multigenerational workforce

Shaping the Workplace: Generational Insights, Behavioral Predictions and Forecasts

It is critical to understand the key factors and takeaways that will shift life as we know it today, so the build environment can appropriately adapt and respond to life post-pandemic. 

In a recent NAIOP webinar, Mark Bryan, Certified Futurist and director of innovation and research, M+A Architects, shared some key ways to best position an organization in response to behavioral shifts, new generational needs, and changes to the workplace that can create cultural transformation and success. 

“Looking globally, each life stage/generation has weathered the [COVID-19] pandemic differently, rapidly adapting as each discovered new ways of living or accelerated sentiments,” said Bryan. “Their new realities have pushed them to evolve and prioritize their view on society, work and community.” 

He shared some of these generational changes:  

Baby Boomers 

  1. Increasingly comfortable with a digital interface through their personal mobile device. 
  1. Becoming “Generation Unretirement” while greying the workforce. A survey in the U.K. found that 13% of older workers had changed their retirement age due to financial stress from the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  1. Preferring more flexible work arrangements due to other family and personal commitments. 

Key takeaway: Engagement with this group can now be done virtually versus all in person as before. New career models that help boomers continue to work will be seen as a good investment for them and be seen as places they will want to work. 

Generation X 

  1. Experiencing a new norm of desynchronized living due to the pandemic. 
  1. Prioritizing mental wellness. Wellness spaces are becoming a more sought-after building amenity. 
  1. Dealing with information overload and uncertainty on where to take their companies = PTSD in the C-suite. 

Key takeaway: Offer supportive means for leaders in this cohort to feel secure in how to make investments. Many offices are now paying for daycare to help ease this generations’ chaotic schedule. 


  1. Becoming the Recessionals – they have lived through two recessions already – which is making them financially conservative. 
  1. Looking for “upskilling” opportunities in work and finances. 
  1. Moving from gig hustle to work-life balance. 

Key takeaway: Many companies are investing in “upskilling” centers to draw employees back into the workplace and offer them a new career pathway. This could be seen as an amenity in future workplace office buildings. 

Generation Z 

  1. Prioritizing a diverse workforce. 
  1. Preferring to be more connected in the office/coworking than work from home – but choosing to live in smaller cities. 
  1. Aligning with authentic brands, spaces, and purposes. 

Key takeaway: Companies are offering relocation and coworking packages to entice workers back into the office. Utilization of dark spaces for remote working can form new aligned, local communities for this generation. 

In closing, Bryan shared that 2020 is the year of “values reset and reprioritization,” the year we see the changes that need to be made, the challenges that lie ahead, and the potential that is within each of us to make that happen. 

Employees and coworkers are shifting and realigning their focus based on their values. This transformation has led to new drivers and needs, which mean they are fundamentally different, and their behaviors are driving new action. 

Part two of this series delves into some of the new future workplace principles based on these drivers. 

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