Coffice: A coffee shop one makes into an office where non-coffee shop work is performed. It's in Urban Dictionary and it's becoming the norm.
Walk into any coffee shop and you're bound to see a plethora of cofficing in action. Just now, I looked up from my laptop and saw a musician composing her latest piece, eavesdropped on some enthusiastic entrepreneurs and let my glance linger a little too long at the woman furrowing her brow in deep concentration over the spreadsheets on her laptop.
At XYZ University, our team is made up of remote employees. As our team continues to grow, we are faced with new challenges, but workplace flexibility remains the cornerstone of our culture. The main reason it works? Trust. From the beginning, the owners of this company impart an enormous amount of trust in you. In a results oriented work environment (ROWE), traditional office hours aren't necessary. When someone isn't pulling their weight, it becomes apparent very quickly. What's amazing to me, is that with high expectations, sincere confidence in the people you work with and regular communication, employees tend to feel unshackled from rigid workplace norms and take on a new level of ownership in their work.
My colleague and I were cofficing together the other day and joked about some of the realities of working remotely. As we jabbered on about an upcoming trade show and some important marketing campaigns, my one-year-old toddled back and forth between us and random strangers, soaking in all the baby talk and googly eyes from strangers. That day we set up shop at Daily Dose in Maple Grove, Minnesota, the go-to coffice space of our CEO. The nondescript exterior in a shopping complex is a simple facade for this local favorite. They know their customers by name and always have a fun message drawn in your caffeinated foam. While my cappuccino told me to "have a great day," our coffice-embracing CEO was in Vienna delivering a presentation to the Associations World Congress. She addressed the dramatic shifts happening in our workplaces due to generational shifts and clashes.
One of those shifts is the migration away from the traditional 40-hour work week and more adoption of ROWE, co-working and other flexible work environments. In our CEO's upcoming book, Talent Generation, she speaks in depth on this topic. In so many respects, the "traditional" way to work doesn't work anymore. Now that Millennials are the majority of the workforce and Gen Z recently joined them in the professional realm, we're witnessing major shifts in expectations for working.
One of these shifts is more workplace flexibility. Regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 103% since 2005 and 3.7 million employees (2.8% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time. This generation holds trust as one of the most important attributes of a good leader and ROWE is the perfect example of a workplace shift built on trust. Raised in an era of disruption, including 9-11, political scandals and real-time news via technological advances, Millennials are looking for employers that value them and allow them to deliver on expectations in their own way.
In many ways, it’s symbolic that Generation Z is named after the last letter in the alphabet because their arrival marks the end of clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences. After all, Gen Z is coming of age on the heels of what has been referred to as the most disruptive decade of the last century. America has become an increasingly changing and complex place.
Members of this generation have undoubtedly been shaped by crisis and disruption. This generation will largely be responsible for confronting the aftermath of the Great Recession, high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, terrorism, energy sustainability, and more. These dark events have undoubtedly made this generation more cautious and pragmatic, but they have also provided this generation with the inspiration to change the world – and their grit will likely allow them to do it.
Coming of age during disruption means that most Zs will be comfortable being the disruptors. While Millennials tend to be collaborative and innovative, this generation tends to be sincere, reflective, thick-skinned, and self-directed, and will likely approach work in much the same way.
In the era following World War II, Boomers (1946-1964) were born and eventually became the wealthiest, most prosperous generation in history. Raised to aspire for the American Dream, this very large generation moved into positions of power and influence, and served as the workforce majority for 34 years.
With the American Dream alive and well, Boomers had no reason to teach their children, mostly Millennials, about competition. Instead, they taught them to focus on academic achievement and to be team players because if everyone works hard, everyone can win.
Enter Generation X (1965-1981). In contrast Boomers, Xers came of age during a time when change and economic and political uncertainty began to take root. They have lived through four recessions, struggled with debt and economic decline most of their lives, and watched the best educated and accomplished generation of all time (Millennials) graduate during the Great Recession and become the most debt-ridden generation in history.
Gen Xers can be defined by their independence and anti-status quo approach to life, and they have taught their Gen Z children to be competitive, believing only the best can win. They have encouraged their children to be realists, finding something they are good at and aggressively pursuing it.
Xers have raised their Zs with an intense focus on competitiveness -- in academics, sports, and other activities. This approach to parenting has many implications, but one stands out in terms of business: Gen Z is likely to lead.
Millennials in the workplace created and aggressively advocated for collaborative work environments. In fact, their aversion to leadership has been so strong, some Millennials sought out companies that boasted boss-free or team-managed workplaces.
In contrast, Zs have been raised with an individualistic, realistic, and competitive nature. They have been taught the skills to successfully defy the norm. This means we’re going to see the pendulum shift away from collaborative workplaces towards a widespread demand for, and pursuit of, leadership development.
While Millennials have been criticized for their “delayed adulthood”, Gen Z is showing signs of “early adulthood”. Educators and parents often describe this generation as being more serious and contemplative about the world. Zs are thinking about their career paths and exposing themselves to career training at an earlier age than Millennials. It’s probable that some of this early onset of adulthood is caused by parents, who are pressuring their children to be competitive and successful and to avoid the debt that plagued both the Gen Xers and Millennials.
The numbers from our global research found 46% of Gen Z said they know what career to pursue and 51% have taken a class at school focused on their career interests. Forty percent joined an extracurricular program (team, club) based on their career interests.
Zs have been shaped by the aftermath of the Great Recession. They watched Millennials become debt-ridden and are concerned about falling into the same trap. XYZ University’s survey results show 66% of Zs said financial stability is more important than doing work they enjoy, which is the exact opposite of Millennial survey results. Also, 71% of survey-takers have a paying job.
When presented a list of leadership traits, Zs ranked positive and trustworthy the highest. While Millennials and Gen Zs both value trust in a leader, Millennials usually cite collaboration and vision as most important. In other words, Millennials focus on the outcomes leaders inspire, whereas Zs are more likely to consider leaders’ attitudes and personalities. To Z, what leaders encourage others to do isn’t as valuable as how they make them feel.
Both Millennials and Gen Zs place a very high value on feeling challenged and appreciated in the workplace. However, according to our survey results Millennials rank appreciation slightly higher than challenge, whereas Zs rank feeling challenged slightly higher than appreciation.
Time will tell how Zs go down in history, but we know this generation’s influence on history will be unlike any other.
Does your organization have what it takes to engage the next generation? Take this quiz to find out.
Sarah Sladek is CEO of XYZ University. Our generational intelligence can assist you with engaging and retaining young talent and members.
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