Whilst utilisation of the traditional office space was always significantly lower than people thought, modern work patterns are gradually heralding the slow ‘death’ of the traditional office. Whilst a drive to reduce the cost of an office estate is not the sole motive for embracing smart working, the realised benefits deliver both tangible financial savings and other significant non-tangible advantages. This has reduced our dependency on the traditional office environment and as fewer of us are working in the same space 9-5 and five days a week, common office practices associated with an administrative structure, control and hierarchy begin to seem out dated and irrelevant. We maintained the same supervised, administrative work styles: pushing aside paper-based in and out-trays and slowly replacing them with computer terminals, microcomputers and then PCs. We might have changed the tools, but we maintained the same working practices, turning the computers ‘on’ in the morning and ‘off’ at the end of the typical human working day. Light years of technology transformation has happened within the working lifetime of many of us and yet, too many working practices and attitudes have been slow to adapt, and many offices still look and operate in the same way as they did prior to the introduction of business computing. What about generation Z, the next generation yet to enter the workforce? How are we preparing for their arrival into the world of work? What will their expectations be and what will have influenced their opinions about and requirements of the workplace? These are the children of the current generations X and Y who themselves should have been profiting from the flexible working arrangements associated with smart working. Or are their parents the unlucky ones who have had change forced on them and share horror stories of how they lost their own desk and were forced to work from home? Does generation Z assume they will be forced to work 9-5 in large office blocks in city centres, negotiating streets choked with the same pattern of rush hour traffic every day? Will they be disappointed on their first day of work to be directed to a desk, with poorer technology on it than they have at home, in a cluttered and uninspiring office and will they be supervised by someone with poor management skills influenced by a limited awareness of how work is changing? How quickly that generation will realise that the world of work hasn’t quite matched their expectations.
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