The latest news, trends and advice on the retail and commercial sector

Generation Z: Space to grow up in

There’s a new group of recruits in the workplace with new rules, new goals and a set of different expectations. Generation Z is looking for the right fit, in a job and an environment that works for them. Joint Managing Director and Co-founder of design and workplace consultancy, Office Principles, Cyril Parsons discusses ways to meet expectations.

Generation Z is entering the workplace and making its presence felt. Born after 1996, it’s the only generation to be brought up with a backdrop of social media and high technology and it’s a lot more savvy and grounded than those generations of workers who have passed before.

It’s a generation of individuals who believe in cultivating happiness by going with what suits them rather than chasing high salaries and trying to get on the property ladder. They want a good standard of living, that isn’t necessarily monetary-based, measured less by possessions and more by experiences, and a level of connectivity that makes them feel a part of their environment, giving them a greater sense of belonging, overall.

Matching Generation Z with the right job is the best way to ensure success for both employers and employees. This age group has raised expectations, thanks to social media, and it’s important to them that they feel at one with the work that they’re doing; they have to see the value.

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Keep track of your Generation Z workers’ progress and, if it’s not working out for them in their initial roles, move them around and see where they work best. Encourage mentoring and collaboration. Getting the post-Millennial generation involved in projects at an early stage is key to better engagement and adopting agile working methods will enable this approach.

An agile working environment allows for such collaborative methodology. If workers are free to move about and adopt activity-based working styles, it means that teams can mix and work freely together, sharing knowledge and experience. It also helps with integration.

Generation Z will likely have a better understanding of technology and come armed with fresh skillsets, such as coding, and a knowledge of the intricacies of all social media platforms. This is a great business benefit, so get set to utilise these different talents and learn from the youngest members of your team.

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Cyril Parsons is Joint Managing Director and Co-founder of Office Principles

Social media devotees, the Generation Z gang is good at making the comparison and they’ll know if your office doesn’t measure up. They will have heard stories from friends about offices with gyms attached, quiet zones and comfy breakout spaces; companies who provide subsidised food or beer on a Friday, not to mention the obligatory ping pong table and free fruit.

As with any other age group, listen to your under 23 year olds and see what they feel works best for them. It may be that an activity-based office, where they can move around freely, is enough in itself. It could be good coffee and the opportunity to work flexible hours is most in demand.

The key to getting it right is to give your Generation Z employees space that makes them feel both at ease and a part of what’s going on around them. Then they will acclimatise and unite with the company and the team.

Decothane Root-Resistant puts The Flower Bowl ahead of the curve

Creating a roof suitable for grazing sheep is not usually part of the brief for a roofing contractor, but, then again, The Flower Bowl is no ordinary roof. Sam Kidd, Area Technical Manager at Sika Liquid Plastics, explains more.

A new build leisure destination, constructed as an extension to a busy garden centre, The Flower Bowl features a curved green roof designed to echo the contours of the landscape.

The client was keen to use a local supply chain. Sika Liquid Plastics’ Decothane Root-Resistant, cold-applied liquid system, produced at the company’s manufacturing site in Preston, provided the ideal solution for the 6000m² roof, installed with Decotherm insulation as part of a warm roof build-up.

W Hughes & Son worked with the steel fabricator on construction of the curved deck before installing Sika Liquid Plastics’ S-VAP 500e vapour barrier directly onto the metal deck. The contractor cut the Decotherm insulation layer to allow the installation to mirror the contours of the curved roof, which involved cutting some complex shapes to achieve the multi-directional falls, before mechanically fixing the insulation to the substrate.

Sam Kidd is Area Technical Manager at Sika Liquid Plastics

The versatility of the Decothane Root-Resistant liquid membrane were vital in smoothing out the substrate ready to receive the green roof finishes. The client had requested that the roof perimeter detail should be green to co-ordinate with the green roof medium so a special RAL-matched membrane was provided and this was applied to the perimeter gutter upstands, with aluminium cappings used to complete the terminations.

One of our Field Technicians visited the site throughout the programme to ensure that the roof was being installed to specification in order to pass the guarantee at the end of the project, and to reduce the likelihood of any snagging works. These visits also enabled a collaborative approach to working with W Hughes & Son to devise solutions for challenging areas of the roof.

Our time to save the high street?

Ian Mercer, Partner at Bruton Knowles, understands that the public sector has taken an active role in regenerating town centres, but asks is there more to do?

To say the past 12 months have been a challenging period for the high street would be an understatement. Online competition, increased business rates and high rents have taken their toll on the retail industry and attention needs to be paid to reignite consumers’ love for buying in their local area. The public sector has an opportunity to lead the way, by putting a clear strategy in place.

Today, passers-by are faced with boarded up windows and empty shops. A new strategy would inspire the re-use of empty residential space – in particular unused space above shops and a focus on encouraging bespoke or smaller retailers into town centres, would allow for a variety of amenities to be readily available.

However, other factors need to be considered. An integrated transport system, including trains, buses and trams need to be readily available, to allow easy, time efficient access for visitors and workers to the area.

The multi-million-pound Dudley tram and bus interchange is an example of how the West Midlands Combined Authority is recognising how infrastructure will influence how people travel and where they will be able to live. Five million people currently use the Dudley Bus Station but when the tram is added, this will increase how many people travel from Dudley into the city, creating new opportunities for living, retail, leisure and jobs.

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Ian Mercer is a Partner at property consultancy Bruton Knowles

The public sector also needs to take the opportunity to work with the private sector, to provide a positive future for the high street.

The City of Wolverhampton Council has already made strides to achieving this by partnering with online marketplace, eBay to help smaller stores online, highlighting how retail and online can work together. By addressing the changing retail climate, the town centre was revitalised.

By investing in towns and cities, the public sector will benefit as there will be an uptake in visitors, leading to increased business, a boost in the economy and people wanting to invest and live in the area.

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