Age is just a number. Personality is what counts in the office

We identified five personalities and styles of work have different needs and expectations of the office space. The conclusions of the report will greatly improve employers' understanding of these differences

September 13, 2019

Eco-enthusiasts focused on ecology and flexibility. Reasonable, traditional, attached to their desks. Focused on work-life balance and requiring clear communication methods. The tech-savvy open to innovations and very ambitious. Goal oriented, motivated and active. This is not a list of requirements that we can find in job advertisements, but the actual attitudes of people who work in modern office buildings. According to the latest report prepared by JLL and Skanska "Diversity in the workplace"[1], employees usually fall into one of five office personalities, regardless of their generation or the size of the city that they work in.

Four generations but five personalities

Baby Boomers, generation X, Y and Z – are people born between 1946-1995 and up. People shaped by different moments of history, different stages of the technological revolution, all at very different stages of life present different needs and attitudes. This division seems quite comprehensive, but is it really enough to properly design the office and adapt its proposition to the expectations of employees? Is age the only aspect that describes a person? Or is age just a number?

“Until recently, most companies believed that the generational model was sufficiently nuanced to act as a suitable base for office design. Sometimes it was a good assumption, other times not so much. This is why we decided to dig a little deeper in order to find out what really differentiates office workers in Poland, what their characteristics are and what they expect from their workplace. We conducted a study regarding 1,000 office workers in companies that employ at least 100 people. As a result, we have identified five office personalities that have a specific set of requirements and expectations for their workplace”, explains Łukasz Dziedzic, Senior Analyst, Research & Consulting, JLL.

The labor market is the main driving force behind the development of the office sector. After all, it is people who work in office buildings and they should be the focus at every stage of a building's design and layout. The composition of office workers has gradually changed over the years. Now representatives of different generations, different life attitudes and different priorities work in office buildings, which requires the appropriate interior layout. The only question is how to carry out the whole process so as to meet the needs of different employee groups.

“The key to creating an office that will not only attract but continue to satisfy employees, and as a result, has the chance to improve retention rates, is to create an effective space which is futureproof. Office workers are not a homogeneous group, and we have to remember that each person may have different preferences, needs, and expectations. After all, life stories, personal beliefs, and interests are important factors in one's personality. It is not enough, therefore, for the employer to give us technological innovations and prepare a space for creative work because these are the current trends on the market. Not all of us need this. So the key is to listen to employees, learn about their needs, answer them by creating an office space tailored to the specifics of the business. This will ultimately translate into meeting the goals of the employer as well”, adds Anna Marciniak, HR and Administration Director, Skanska.

From eco-enthusiasts to goal-oriented employees – a few words about office personalities

Who works in Polish offices? According to the report by JLL and Skanska, 26% of respondents have a Work Hard, Tech Hard personality type. This personality is predominant in large organizations located in Poland. What does it mean? Many of us want work that requires mobility and that is varied and challenging. This type of personality is well-versed in modern technologies, is ambitious, influential, sociable and someone that sets the bar high. People from this group are innovative and happy to test new things such as office products.

25% of employees are from the Mission Completion category - they are task-oriented, reliable and active. Their characteristic feature is the readiness to work in flexible hours. This group has the highest percentage of people from senior management. This type of employee often comes to work by car, so having their own parking space on the building's premises is a huge advantage for them.

“Different preferences regarding transport and commuting time are one of the most important distinguishing features that defines individual personality types. The location of the office itself is also directly related to this factor - for some of us, prestige is important, i.e. working in the very centre of the city, while for others the proximity of public transport and a city bike station is of key importance. Therefore, it is very important to carefully choose the location of the new office at the investment planning stage”, comments Jakub Zieliński, Team Leader, Workplace Advisory, JLL.

Among them is also the White Collar Classic (25% of respondents), the most traditional office personality, that has extensive professional experience and is reasonable. Such employees care a lot about their own desk, and therefore they like to personalize their space. In addition, they are not big fans of remote work and flexible hours. It follows that their employers need to take extra care of the basic office features in order to meet the White Collar Classic's needs.

“If we compare the popularity of having an assigned desk with sharing work space, we can see that desk-sharing is a relatively recent solution in Poland, while in Western Europe it is an established standard that successfully supports cooperation between people. According to our research, only 15% of respondents have experienced this kind of solution. However, assigned desks are seen as less important when alternative spaces, such as creative zones, quiet rooms, informal spaces and relaxation areas enter the equation. This proves that any initial resistance associated with desk sharing can be overcome over time”, adds Jakub Zieliński.

The smallest but most involved office group are CO-Workers, CO2-Fighters (11% of respondents) who show great openness towards more unusual workspaces. They are real eco-enthusiasts, who care a great deal about green solutions in their offices, willingly come to work on bikes, appreciate green surroundings and are the least attached to having their own desk. In contrast, the Busy But Balanced (13% of respondents) type of personality is well-organized, can clearly communicate their needs, is responsible and really doesn't care whether there are plants in the office or not. As the most important thing for people who fall into the Busy But Balanced category is work-life balance, they need a clear set of rules that will allow them to efficiently plan both work duties and life outside work.

The office – it’s not all about the space

Modern offices are no longer just rows of desks. They are also not places where you spend eight hours completely cut off from other aspects of life, and only feel relief when leaving the office. Or at least they shouldn't be. So how to create a place that will live and where employees will come willingly?

"Providing the best experience in the workplace on a daily basis requires all parties to be involved together in the design of the working environment. The main goal should be to create an office space that will be tailored to the expectations of the teams that will in turn support the business needs of the entire company. The key to success here is the involvement of employees at the earliest stage of office design. Dialogue about the working environment and a sense of belonging to an organization is something that we should all strive for”, summarizes Jakub Zieliński.

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[1] This report is based on a survey of 1,000 office staff from companies employing at least 100 people.

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