By 2025, Gen Z is expected to take up 25% of the total workforce in Vietnam. Understanding those born between 1997 to 2012 better and designing a workplace experience that makes them tick could help companies become much more successful in both attracting and retaining these young, creative, worldly employees.
So what does Gen Z want? What drives them? And how different are they really from Millennials? A wide-ranging study led by Decision Lab, an agile marketing research agency, and Dreamplex, which designs and delivers employee-centric workplace experiences, set out to find the answer to those questions.
In a series of blog posts, we dive into the results across The Job, Ways of Working, The Workplace, and the need for Personalization and Choice.
The Workplace Gen Z Wants
The British workplace strategist Antony Slumbers said it best: “Companies don’t want an office. They want a productive workforce.” Add to that “collaborative, creative, inspired”, and we’re close to hitting on the unspoken truth that most companies see the office as just a cost – especially in a post-COVID world, where working remotely is more accepted.
So why is it then that some of the best employers in the world invest heavily in their offices? And why is this almost always about way more than just the physical space? The same reason why the Googleplex is always brought up when singing praise to Google as an employer: because when utilized in the right way, offices aren’t a cost, but a tool towards what the company really cares about – getting the most out of their teams.
Lots of demands for Gen Z’s ideal workplace
Any conversation about a work environment that gets the most out of teams should start with the question: “What does the team want from their office?”
For Gen Z, by far the most important criterion is that the office is comfortable. This could be about many things, as Gen Z-er My (1998) shared: “Comfort is so important to us. I want to be able to be myself, to do what I like, not to be constrained by existing stereotypes. And we don't want anyone to judge our look or our way of working. This is also why private spaces within the offices are important to us.”
Offices also need to be professional, modern, and creative: these office characteristics were chosen by at least 30% of Gen Z-ers. Compared to Millennials, they also assign more importance to their offices being quiet, relaxing and equipped with “high focus” areas. This mirrors the findings about
Designed for creativity and content creation
Thoughtful office design also chimes with
Such content created in the physical workplace can showcase how exciting it is to work in your company. As The Wall Street Journal reported: “More companies are designing their offices with playful art that employees and clients can photograph and post on social media. The idea: to make their brand look hip to job seekers and generally liven up their image, as well as try to spark enthusiasm and creativity among employees.”
This means the office also needs to continuously adapt and evolve, to keep things exciting and to inspire new content every single day. Creating a dedicated social media content calendar for the physical workplace can help showcase your corporate culture through posts about milestones and celebrations in the office. This immediately increases the amount of content created in the space.
Food is a must
Easily overlooked, F&B options are very important for Gen Z. Anyone who’s observed minimarts, bubble tea shops, and of course street food stalls knows that the love for food and drinks runs deep in the Vietnamese culture. For young Vietnamese, having options to eat and drink at, whether at work or near the office, is important.
This could simply be a snack shelf in the pantry, or more elaborate options like a cafeteria or catered food. Of course, ordering food and drinks on Grab, Baemin, Foody, etc. isn’t going anywhere either. However, it could be nicely complemented with what’s available in the office itself.
These perks are much more important and attractive for Gen Z, and less so for Millennials. F&B is one of the categories in our research where the difference between Gen Z and Millennials was stark. The desire for a snack shelf or a vending machine is almost double from Millennials, and for a cafeteria 24% more than in Millennials. A slightly higher percentage than for Millennials, a space to eat together is important for 1 in 4 Gen Z’s, so employers would be wise to include this in their office design.
As Gen Z-er My (1998) shared: “We usually allocate some time to have a snack with team members, so it’s also a social activity. That’s why I wanted to have options in the office or building.”
Wellbeing is one of the most in-demand perks right now
Designing the workplace for wellbeing is key; Gen Z is 51% more likely than Millennials to burn out because of the pressure they put on themselves. Starting with the physical space, workplaces can certainly do more to cater towards Gen Z’s need for wellbeing.
Start with napping space: 6 out of 10 Gen Z’ers want it in their offices. As Deloitte states, “Sleep is the ultimate performance enhancer.” It’s so important, in fact, that some companies even pay their employees for coming to work well-rested. And while sleeping in the office is already a known behavior in Vietnam, many offices don’t yet offer a dedicated napping space.
Gen Z also wants lots of greenery and natural air: 58% said it’s important in an office. The benefits of greenery were proven again in a recent Harvard study that examined 10 high-performing buildings to understand the relationship between employee wellbeing and business results, and the role of a greener environment in this.
Last but not least, a workplace designed for wellbeing won’t be complete without focusing on Work-Life Balance and Mental Wellbeing – 69% of all Vietnamese Gen Z asked for this. From yoga after work to promoting healthy workplace behaviors through
The way to design an office that works for Gen Z
Especially in the post-COVID world where most employees have tasted the joys of working from home (to some extent), businesses are more motivated than ever to create workplaces people actually want to go to rather than have to go to.
For Gen Z, the list of demands for a “destination office” is lengthy, but not impossible to realize. First, make sure the office is comfortable: a place where they can be themselves, unconstrained by stereotypes and free from judgement, and work the way they want.
Also, make sure the office environment is professional, modern, creative and playful. Create different kinds of spaces to cater to different personality types, jobs and tasks. Include quiet and focused space for when they work alone or collaborate virtually.
Let them channel their inner creator and design spaces that promote content generation. When done well, Gen Z will be the first ones to show off their workspace with pride, especially when it’s continuously re-decorated to give them the inspiration to keep creating great social content.
Want to take it to the next level? Include great F&B options, from a snack shelf to on-site cafeteria. If they don’t need to leave the building for their drinks, snacks, and meals, they’ll feel taken care of and understood that much more.
Finally, design the workplace that promotes mental and physical wellbeing. Gen Z is under a lot of pressure from themselves and those around them. Support them with a workplace that keeps them healthy by, for example, providing places to rest and relax, and by prioritizing their mental health.