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Is Generation Z Redefining Indian Workspace

Gen Z’s have already grown to comprise over a third of the Indian and global population.

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“You merely adopted it. I was born in it, moulded by it” says villain Bane from the Batman series. 

The sentiment bears meaningful resonance with Generation Z’s mindful, fluid and connected work culture. Born into the explosive permeation of technology, Gen Z has sidestepped common practices to invent hyper-creative and uniquely functional work cultures. They live and breathe it. 

Gen Z’s have already grown to comprise over a third of the Indian and global population. This 23 years-old and under segment will make up one-fifth of the Indian workforce by 2021. As the world’s youngest and most radical consumers, their game-changing demands affect measurable transformations across all industries, specifically co-working spaces.

In December 2018, Business World reported that “2018 has been nothing short of a landmark period for co-working spaces in India making it one of the biggest flexible space markets in APAC with a massive growth of 50 per cent from 2017” with domestic players constituting 68 per cent of the total flexible space stock in India. 

The same report predicted that 2019 would “witness a sharp growth by roughly multiple folds (4 to 8 fold) of the current size of the industry”.

This growth is accelerated not only by the efficiency of the co-working model for large corporations but also by the appeal of flexible and customised work cultures for millennials and their Gen Z counterparts. 

Hyper-connected, growth-focused and collaborative, these young professionals are interested in a work-life fusion that supports entrepreneurial and inventive thought processes. Co-working spaces are uniquely positioned to offer exactly that.  

Most co-working spaces offer technology tools that boost productivity and increase engagement leading to efficient problem-solving and constant innovation; which is closely aligned with the culture of Gen Z professionals. 

For example, high-speed video conferencing facilities at high-quality co-working spaces seamlessly enable teams to connect with clients and stakeholders across national and international boundaries. 

But while technology is the chief enabler of Gen Z-friendly workspaces, its allure is heightened by a combination of other factors. For instance, the ergonomic, yet swanky, the architecture of co-working hubs reinforces a horizontal hierarchy through open layouts and speedy connections both digital and human. 

It simply allows Gen Z’s to work the way they want to work. Given their response, it appears they want to work as they live - in a manner that is connected, conscious and creative. 

Fusing their individual aspirations with a career trajectory, Generation Z seeks a cohesive life map that is stimulated by both professional and personal progress. As such the opportunities for networking and community-driven learning at co-working spaces are critical for them. 

There is also a viral allure among young professionals towards a sense of ownership. Intrinsically motivated and mission-oriented they value the freedom and authority of self-leadership. In a co-working space, even professionals in a lower rank of the office feel a sense of belonging, responsibility and career growth. This filters upward through the corporate structure, allowing senior members of staff to more freely delegate work to younger staff who perform effectively in a collaborative environment.  

The importance of community for Gen Z cannot be overstated. Therefore, most co-working spaces offer relationship-building opportunities to entrepreneurs as well as corporate or SME members. 

Gen Z’s are motivated by the vision of an organisation more than material reward. They thrive in a community with a steady supply of challenging ideas and intellectual stimulation. Breaking down the compartmentalised barriers of the cabin-cubicle culture, co-working spaces offer both structure and nebular connectivity essential to this generation.

As a socially and environmentally conscious community, Generation Z is keenly in-tune to the unfolding crisis of climate change. The value spaces that are sustainable. They are particular about everything from eco-conscious accessories such as recycled paper, clay mugs and bamboo pens to broader initiatives such as waste separation bins and energy-efficient spaces.

Co-working spaces not only align with but habitually promote this environmental ethos by using biodegradable materials where possible and peppering the space with natural plants for air purification. To emphasise socially empowering practices, co-working spaces also hold philanthropic drives to raise funds or awareness for pressing causes.

For example, a winter clothes donation drive, a fundraiser for a non-profit aiding education in rural communities or a panel discussion featuring CEOs of socially impactful firms.

Overall, Gen Z’s aspirations are profoundly and rapidly redefining workspaces and specifically fuelling the evolution of co-working spaces, which will continue to occupy a growing proportion of flexible space stock in the country.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Srishti Dhir

The author is Founder of Delhi-based co-working start-up, Hub and Oak.

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