Are You Catering to ‘Digital Natives’?

Is your workspace catering to digital natives?
Is your workspace catering to digital natives?

Over the years we’ve reported on scores of different workplace trends – from the explosive growth of mobile working and virtual offices, to the evolving trend of activity-based working.

New workplace trends are emerging on a continual basis and in today’s digital age, it’s a safe bet that technology is fuelling it.

We’re familiar with Generation Y and their disruptive approach to all things business and technology. But not all workers within a certain generation conform to the norm. Technology advances, people adapt. Why should Generation Y get all the fun? Generation X and baby boomers are just as adept at keeping up with the latest tech as Gen Y.

With that in mind, a recent article in the Estates Gazette highlighted how workspace operators should cater to the entire IT generation. Or as author Dan West – Innovations Manager at Draftfcb – puts it, to the “digital natives”.

“As baby boomers retire, they are being replaced by the first tranche of digital natives,” says Dan. “According to Google, 91% of them own smartphones and almost all have multiple social media accounts. They expect technology to be intuitive, personal, useful, flexible, fast and reliable.”

Dan focus on three key traits of this demographic, and what they expect from their workplace environment. Is your business centre keeping up with these demands?

  • Mobile working:Digital natives expect to work from the latest devices and access all of their work PC content from smartphones and tablets, and want the freedom to work whenever and wherever.As a workspace operator, this BYOD trend represents a number of opportunities and challenges. At a very basic level your Wi-Fi provision should be fast and reliable, but a more pertinent question might be, how do you charge for Wi-Fi? Do you allow mobile workers to drop in and pay by the hour? Do you provide free access in communal areas – at the risk of losing revenue to guests and client visitors? Clients expect a solid Wi-Fi connection – but that doesn’t mean it should be a drain on your financial resources.
  • Social working:According to Dan, digital natives share their thoughts and insights by working collaboratively. They take pride in sharing information and see it as a social currency, expecting businesses to operate in real time and provide constant feedback and fast answers to questions.There are a number of key points here, “real time” being a significant one. Real time bookings and account management is an essential part of the flexible workspace industry’s future, as Caleb Parker of explained. Working collaboratively is another – and this doesn’t just mean coworking. It can translate to communal or break-out space, business lounges, hot-desking, perhaps even the provision of standing desks.
  • Integrated working:Digital natives expect businesses to work seamlessly – to transfer data between their laptops, tablets, smartphones and wearable tech. They expect to read emails on smartphones, action them on their tablet and discuss them on the webcam. They expect technology to fit around their needs, not the other way around.A key point here for business centres is the provision of a solid IT infrastructure, with reliable networking and high-speed Wi-Fi. Technology and mobile devices are now so ingrained in our working culture that if clients can’t get a good signal, or if the Wi-Fi constantly drops out, they will vote with their feet.

Dan offers some useful advice on how to cater to these demands. In particular, he recommends a user-centric approach in which businesses look beyond their usual remit and start thinking more broadly about technology that supports and enhances clients’ experience. Trying new things is vital – as is the ability to pivot accordingly, depending on what works and what doesn’t.

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Of course, the real test is doing all of this without losing sight of client satisfaction and value. In addition, data security is an ongoing challenge as the workspace becomes more collaborative and work practices become more ‘social’.

Is your workspace catering to digital natives? Where will our industry turn next? While new generations and tech-enabled workers will continue to throw us ever more complex demands, we can be sure that the future workplace will be a fascinating and tech-savvy place.

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