Ageless office design – something to worry about?

Baby boomers have been moving into early retirement for some time now, so offices are trying to adapt to an ageing Generation X. Does this mean we need to change the way we approach office design?

An extended work life is inevitable as we are all living longer and need to save for larger retirement funds. As Jeremy Myerson, the Helen Hamlyn professor of design at the Royal College of Art, says: “Currently, we have a feeling in the creative industry that ageing is a demographic time bomb waiting to explode. It’s a crisis.”

Our understandable concern is perhaps more manageable than we may think. A 2014 RIBA study investigated the changes we should make in office spaces in order to be more age inclusive. The results suggested that many changes would benefit all generations and create an ageless office.

As we know, older workers crave quiet and privacy for concentration. A Guardian article on the ageing generation in the workplace suggests silent working spaces should have strict protocols to support our ageing sensibilities. Interestingly, spaces designated for silent work are well distributed in universities and schools too, suggesting that Millennials and Generation Z already work well in similar environments.

Work/life balance is particularly important to Generation X’s, and as a result agile office spaces are already becoming more prevalent. Gen Y’s & Z’s also have healthy boundaries between work and play and are also likely to be the first generation who champion home working from an ecological perspective. This all suggests that flexibly allocated desking with alternative work settings also support age-inclusive office design.

‘The Age Of No Retirement’ is a company who advocate the ageless workspace – they proffer that to de-stigmatise the ageing generation we should stop thinking that there are such distinct differences between age groups and just cater for everyone under one roof.

Are Generation X going to defy the stereotype that we ‘can’t teach an old dog new tricks’? Despite any physical problems of ageing, Generation X seem to be readily equipped for the changing office space. They have lived through the digital revolution and are already showing what drives them by implementing new boundaries for work/life balance. Generation X traits tend to be more adaptable and empathetic too, and as such they are well suited to workspaces that benefit all generations.

By defying the stereotypes created by the Boomers, Generation X are better suited to the ‘ageless’ office. And so, perhaps this ‘crisis’ is no crisis at all.

The Workspace Consultants specialise in office design and fit out project management in Cambridge, so please contact us to discuss your requirements and to arrange a no-obligation consultation.

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