By Brian Morrissey, summer 2019 intern in APCO’s Chicago office.
This summer, APCO’s popular intern pitch competition, a popular experience for interns here, went global for the first time and I was privileged to participate. This semester’s theme was The Workplace of the Future Challenge. Interns were grouped into teams of 5-6 and tasked with using personal experience, societal trends and in-depth research to paint a picture of what future workplaces will look like. Based on findings from desk research and in-depth interviews with colleagues throughout the APCO network, my team decided to focus on internal connectivity in the future. As new generations enter the workforce, what can APCO and others do to improve communication within teams and throughout offices?
Create a Culture of Collaboration
Studies show that collaboration in the workplace can supercharge a company’s productivity and help motivate workers. The combination of a strong collaborative culture and well-designed workspaces can boost employee engagement, especially among Gen Z workers who prefer more face-to-face interaction over closed-off workspaces. Taking steps to implement open floor plans, creative brainstorming areas and more conversational spaces will help promote a more collaborative environment.
Invest in Innovative Technology
Younger generations are always looking for new ways to communicate online – a 2018 Pew Research study found that 95 percent of teens have access to a smartphone and 89 percent say they are online almost constantly or several times a day. To keep the pace with these early tech adopters, organizations must actively search for more intuitive, convenient ways to share information internally. The best solution is to invest in a singular platform with the ability to instant message, video call and file-share all in one place.
Establish a Work-Life Balance
The average American spends 90,000 hours at work throughout their lifetime, meaning personal relationships in the office are very important. Spending time with coworkers outside of work, through volunteering or recreational events, can help workers establish greater trust with their colleagues. In addition, these efforts help both teams and managers bond, boost morale and provide opportunities to celebrate accomplishments.
As young people enter the workforce, innovative work environments with cutting edge technology, streamlined communications and ample opportunities for deeper connections between employees will be key to attracting new talent in the coming years.