- There are now five generations working side by side in the workplace
- Catering to the needs and wants of each generation is a challenge, however flexible workspaces must do it in order to thrive and grow
- Robert Kropp shares various tips on how to better run a space in order to provide the best experience to all members
As a digital nomad, coworking explorer, and Millennial, I have spent the last two years discovering, writing, and working out of coworking and shared workspaces around the world.
Throughout this time, I have increasingly become aware that more and more people using these types of workspaces are at different stages of their and career. Long gone are the days of coworking users being mostly young people or Millennials. In fact, there are now “five generations working side by side in the workplace”. Which incredible as it is, it can also be a challenge.
Each generation works differently. We are driven, engaged, entertained, and distracted in a variety of ways. Finding the right balance of rules, guidelines, amenities, services, design, and the like for members is a challenge that needs to be addressed in order for your space to thrive and grow. You need to create a space that is flexible, and by that we mean resilient so that it can adapt and support to cater to additional generations that are likely to join.
Whether someone is coming from a corporate office of 30 years or fresh out of college, the expectations and priorities of each will often times be quite different.
Some people might need a more professional environment or prefer a workspace with pool tables and video games. Neither is good or bad. These perspectives are just different.
From the first tour, management must be completely clear to themselves and potential members or teams about who they are and who they cater to, so as to provide the best experience possible for your members and to ensure that they are a right fit for your community and culture.
Rules & Guidelines
Members of coworking and shared workspaces are not all working for the same company under a hierarchy of roles and positions that help to align goals, culture, and behavior of the entire group.
Without this structure, some coworkers might not be as observant in how they interact with others and if they are being a good coworker. Whether it is noise, work ethic, cleanliness, or appropriateness, every generation and person in the space can and times will have a different opinion of what is annoying and should be considered as acceptable.
It is up to the space manager to create a basic set of rules or guidelines for the community. This could be as simple as treat people the way you want to be treated, make sure members feel safe, or even just clean up after yourself.
Write these rules down and lead by example.
As would be expected, there are various personality and behavioral types. This you will find in all generations, regardless of age and profession.
Even though their might be some general rules in place that help manage the interaction between everyone, sometimes people are just too loud, conversations are inappropriate, or people are just being inconsiderate to others nearby. Similarly, there are people who prefer not to be bothered and keep to themselves much of the time.
Personally, I am fond and prefer coworking spaces that are managed by the members themselves, it all flows more naturally. However, it is still important to have a community or workspace manager that is on top of things and knows how to keep a balanced approach to dealing with each member, depending on their personalities, requests, or complaints.
As a coworker, I always try to figure out who the chatty people are to avoid in crunch time, who the quiet people are, who the experts are, or which just keep to themselves and don’t interact outside of their group or office. This helps me get more work done and hopefully be less annoying to people that are constantly being bothered or interrupted with questions.
Management can do the same thing. By knowing what type of person each member is, they can better pinpoint where problems arise and fix them before they become an unmanageable issue.
Pro tip: Don’t ignore challenges between members. Problems only become bigger when they are ignored. Continually talk with your community to gauge what is happening and what can be improved in the space.
Whether a coworking or shared workspace wants to cater to all types of people and generations or just specific ones, it is important to monitor, manage, and make adjustments as needed in order to provide the best experience for all members of the community.