The Impacts of an Evolving Workforce

September 23, 2018

Derek Pedersen

With an estimated 1,238 people moving to the Puget Sound Region on a weekly basis, the fast moving dynamics of the Seattle office market are in a constant state of flux. Seattle currently has 122,000 tech workers, which in comparison to our neighbor to the south San Francisco is larger by about 30,000. Seattle’s tech workforce has grown at an annualized 4.8 percent over the last five years. Tech firms are dominating any and all activity with over 60% of all firms currently active on the market being tech related. One more stat for you, tech accounted for 93% of Seattle office jobs added over the last two years!

 

How does this effect the workplace landscape going forward?

 

The two main factors fundamentally affecting real estate in the early part of the 21st century include the transition of millennials to being the predominant age group in the workforce, and secondly their deep resolve to live in urban areas.In contrast, throughout the entirety of the 20th century the workplace was a static, physical place, modeled after the industrial world. The product was the main focus, while employee morale was merely an afterthought. Nowadays, major tech companies are hiring CPO’s, Chief People Officers, and VP’s of People Strategy with focuses mainly on a strategist that can help with organizational design, executive coaching and development, and the implementation of learning and development programs, stated Mike Herbert, Head of Talen Acquisition for Boston’s nonprofit Edx. Organizational health is becoming increasingly important especially for younger and fast growing startups. With the extreme growth and fast paced atmosphere surrounding these companies, employees need to feel valued and have a sense of contribution, to maintain a high sense of retention it is key to focus on each employee’s professional growth.

 

Watch out Millennials, time to make way for Generation Z. This generation doesn’t know life without technology. Furthermore, with Gen Z entering the workforce at an alarming rate, today’s executives must adapt or be forgotten. After attending SXSW, Alan Peters with Savills-Studley workplace solutions stated, “During college, for instance, Gen Z most likely lived in high-quality, amenity-rich dorms, which created a sense of community with those in close proximity and a sense of abundance. They are likely to expect those same amenities wherever they work and live today. Companies should proactively foster that same sense of connectedness and that same richness through community gathering spaces, informal dining/entertainment options and personal services.” Yes—workers want collaboration, a feeling of connectedness, and a strong sense of community.

 

Okay that’s all great…what does this new tech enhanced space look like? Let’s first begin with the construction materials (or lack thereof) needed for a job that entails unassigned bench seating, flexible workstations, and open floor plans. Now be careful, typically these open workspaces and tech-style fit outs are cheaper to build out, with less private offices, fewer walls and doors, etc, however the added costs become apparent in workplace improvements including modern furniture, glass doors, and sophisticated audio-visual (AV) technology. In short, your office needs to portray a place engulfed in good, active energy while demonstrating a workplace where people enjoy spending their working hours.

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