What is Gen Z looking for in the workplace?


Each new generation comes to the workplace with its own style of communication. From viral TikToks to provocative statements like “We rarely use email,” Gen Z’s entry into the workforce is sure to make waves of its own. But what should we consider when recruiting, trying to retain and selling to this new generation of designers?

By 2025, Gen Z is expected to make up 27% of the total workforce. The oldest of this generation were born in 1997, and many younger Gen Z designers were brought in during the pandemic shutdowns. Now they have their first chance to go into the office and build relationships in person.

At ThinkLab, we think the timing of this generation’s entry into the workforce, coupled with their relationship to digital tools, will likely affect how Gen-Zers communicate at work, what they look for in a employer and how they specify. We explored these concepts in a recent Clubhouse session with a panel of Gen Z educators, experts, and designers who offered first-hand observations on how this generation is different and how they don’t. ‘is not. Here’s what we learned.


Although the use of the last letter of the alphabet is appropriate for the last generation of the 1900s, some of the people we spoke to said that the name Gen Z was appropriate because, if we take no further action, it could be the last generation before we destroy the environment. Many Gen Z designers talk about their passion for sustainability, which they will bring to the workplace. “There’s a gap between seasoned professionals who want to be sustainable but don’t know how to get there,” says Vedyun Mishra, Technical Designer, Gensler, and 2021 Metropolis Future100 winner. “We can help bridge that gap.”

Gen Z has also shown a lot of ingenuity (like when they created bedrooms out of necessity during the pandemic). Given these characteristics, Gen Z architects and designers are likely to bring pragmatism and a sense of minimalism to their projects.


Generation Z will be the most diverse workforce in our country’s history. According to Pew Research, a simple majority (52%) are non-Hispanic whites. Gen Zers are also more comfortable than previous generations with expressing gender fluidity (about 60% say online forms or profiles should include additional gender options, compared to 50% of millennials) . In the workplace, they will seek a culture that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion.

Gen Z designers also rate companies on their approach to career development, mental health, and societal impact. According to Tarra Kieckhaefer, founder of Network Next Gen, “Questions [Gen Zers] the questions we ask today are about work-life balance and setting boundaries. We hear a lot about transparency, but this generation expects and is willing to talk openly about tough issues, including pay.


While many assume Gen Z will push us further into a digital-only world, they want the best of both worlds and are naturally comfortable with the digital/physical fluidity of a hybrid world. At ThinkLab, we believe we can help move the industry in a positive direction by developing a dialogue that helps everyone communicate better. With that in mind, here are some closing suggestions:

If you hire Gen Z architects and designers:

· Gen Z is looking for flexible policies that honor empathy and autonomy.

· To attract them, you’ll need to be more transparent about your company policies than ever before.

· To retain them, you will have to prove that you are “walking the step”.

· Be prepared for their fearlessness when it comes to transparency, including salary.

If you sell to Gen Z architects and designers:

· Gen Z is looking for the right balance between in-person and digital experiences.

· They expect multi-pronged engagement and the same authenticity from their brands as they do from their employers.

· Gen Z has vast national networks due to their social media connectivity, and how they build relationships will affect what they expect from brands and their local reps.

If you are a Gen Z architect or designer:

· Welcome to the interior design industry – we’re glad you’re here.

· Please be patient as we do, yes, make some categorizations, but only to help communicate your generation’s values ​​to those who can empower you to do your best.

Amanda Schneider is president of ThinkLab, the research arm of SANDOW Design Group. Join us for next steps at thinklab.design/join-in.


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