EBI News
Adapt Your Office for a Multi-Generational Workforce

Profound changes in the composition of the labor force are under way and will continue through the next 10 to 15 years and beyond. These changes affect business practices and policies, organizational structure, relationship dynamics, as well as the workplace environment. Baby boomers, who have been the largest segment of the labor pool for nearly 40 years, begin to retire in 2008. Phasing in as another very large group will be Generation Y. As these demographic changes are under way, we work in an environment that is shared by four generations: the traditionals, baby boomers, Generation X, Generation Y.

Design Your Office for Change

We all have experienced change in our personal lives and in our work lives. We’ll leave a discussion of change itself to experts in the disciplines of psychology, economics, sociology, political science and history.

We know the effects that change can render. It is disruptive or even paralyzing if we are caught in a state of unpreparedness or unwillingness to acknowledge it or accept it.

How to Think Outside the Cubicle

In the 1960’s Robert Propst, the inventor of the first open office furniture system, remarked that "…today's office is a wasteland. It saps vitality, blocks talent, frustrates accomplishment. It is the daily scene of unfulfilled intentions and failed effort." He could have been describing Dilbert’s workplace, the office environment that was ubiquitous throughout the 1970’s, 1980’s and into the 1990’s. But Dilbert had not been conceived at the time he expressed those observations.

2008 marks the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the first open plan system whose basic building block came to be known as the cubicle, the symbol of office life and culture, the unit that became loved by employers as a tool of efficiency and ultimately maligned by office workers who saw it as a means of control and oppression.