Business Trends

Report Finds Generations and Tech Are Transforming Workplace, by Avison Young

File Type: Free Content, Article
Release Date: April 2013
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Rapid technological change and new generations of workers are continuing to impact the workplace in dramatic ways, reported Toronto-based Avison Young in its Spring-Summer edition of Avison Young Commercial Real Estate Newsletter. The newsletter noted that there are now four generations in the workplace including Mature/World War II (born pre-1946); Baby Boomers (1946-1965); Generation X (1966-1980); and Gen Y/Millennials (1981-2000). Gen Y now makes up about 34-35 percent of the workforce in the U.S. and Canada. These educated, tech-savvy young workers are transforming the workplace both physically and psychologically.

For decades, office designs changed little, with traditional private offices, cubicles and meeting rooms. In the 1990s, personal computers, mobile phones and the internet brought dreams of a paperless office and hotelling, according to the newsletter. Still, over the past 20 years, office space looked much the same as in the past. Enter Gen Y. Today, according to the newsletter, CEOs are in cubicles and there is a new business glossary: “distributed workforce” – hiring regardless of geography; “BYOD” – bring your own device to work; and “ROWE” – results-only work environment. Smart phones have become virtual desks, offering “unified communications” across platforms and media.

As office space per employee continues to decline, what will happen to all of the underutilized space, and, indeed, to the traditional single-purpose office building? The future of office buildings may end up being the “Hackable Building,” a term coined by the global architecture firm Gensler, according to the Avison Young newsletter. A Hackable Building is an existing structure that has been updated beyond recognition to incorporate a diverse mix of uses such as residential, office, retail, educational and public spaces.