Sunday, November 7, 2010

Generations Together in The Workplace

This is a work in progress diagram I created with Google Docs Drawing tools.  It's purpose is to provide a three-dimensional view of the generational forces at work in today's workplace.  

Together, they cultivate a powerful and fertile ground for innovation and inspiration.  By using the big picture experience of the Vets and ever changing Boomers in combination with the action oriented, meaning seeking techy Gen Xr's and Millenials, creative ideas and innovative services can be rolled out.  By leveraging the strengths of these generations together better business can happen.

The same goes for workplace design and working together.  Recognize the various age groups in your workplace have different needs based on their business and cultural background which may or may not impact their expectations about their work setting.  For older more experienced workers you'll likely find they're used to working in closed offices or higher paneled workstations.  They've grown up in a world where the status of having those offices matter as well as their quiet spaces for focused work.  But they look out of their offices in wonder at the 20 somethings working with three displays, smartphones.

The in between workers see things a little more fluidly, haven grown more used to working out in the open and sharing meeting rooms and other common areas.  They like the idea of private offices but I think they might wonder if they would miss collaboration opportunities in the open work areas with their other team mates.  Millenials don't understand or want private offices, just give them sound cancelling headphone, instant messaging and comfortable open work stations or work areas where they have close connection with others.  They also understand social and professional media in ways the Gen Xer's and Boomers don't.  To be effective business people they need each other.  Boomers can mentor Millenials about career and work execution while the Millenials can mentor Boomers on uses of Social Media to bring ideas to market.  Gen Xer's are in between the others directing project work and keeping everybody and everything going.   Of course its important to not generalize too much as one aspect of the human condition is our ability to adapt and change to new technologies and work strategies.  Evolving is what we do!

By accommodating the various work styles of these generations with different workspace choices I think better work can happen.  By providing a variety of workspaces such as some private offices, small to large conference rooms, hotelling spaces, camp circle areas, focused team/ individual rooms and open work areas communities,  common cafe's, libraries, workout and wellness spaces healthy organizations can be cultivated and sustained, strengths can be leveraged, collaboration can happen.  Next time a conflict arises between different team members from different generations, dig deep together, resist being too stubborn and seek out the root cause of dissatisfaction.   Within it likely is the kernel of a new business and organizational process which could lead to innovation and higher performance.  Just be willing to listen and learn from each other!

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