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News release


Four generations in the current Australian workforce.   How to cater for the nearly 50 year age gap that is becoming more commonplace

How Activity Based Working (ABW) responds to different generational requirements

AUSTRALIA, 20 JUNE 2012 – We are fast approaching a workplace that will be shared by four generations with very different work experiences, work styles and expectations. Organisations going down the path of alternative workplace strategies, like Activity Based Working (ABW) need to be mindful of these variations and the approximate 50-year age gap that is becoming more commonplace within the workforce.

A new White Paper by Jones Lang LaSalle states that ABW gives organisations the luxury of better mixing the different generations in the workplace to encourage collaboration and knowledge transfer.
According to the Paper, ABW helps organisations address the generational gap by providing:
• Flexibility of work settings for a variety of different work styles;
• More collaboration space versus personal space – which is what Gen X & Y are looking for;
• Homezones or Neighbourhoods – allowing Baby Boomers (who are not as self-sufficient as other generations) access to support staff and team resources and also allowing Gen Y access to mentoring and learning experiences from their more senior team members;
• Improved technology tools to support the way in which Gen Y and Millennials (also referenced as Gen Z) are accustomed to communicating and working;
• A trust-based leadership model whereby leaders manage by outcome rather than line-of-sight.
Australian Head of  Corporate Transactions and Consulting, Tony Wyllie said analysis by Jones Lang LaSalle of the key drivers for organisations who embarked on ABW recently found some interesting results.
“While still remaining cost conscious, organisations are not listing cost savings as a reason for embarking on the ABW journey, but instead as a by-product. The adoption of ABW is not just about cost – it is the workplace catching up with the way people work and live their life, enabled by technology and connectivity.

“That’s where the generational factors come into ABW.  We believe it supports the generational gap in the workforce by catering for different work styles and needs of generations. The ABW concept incorporates enhanced mobility and flexibility through multiple activity settings and work locations. 
“Jones Lang LaSalle moved to ABW in March this year and by using non-assigned desks, we have increased the work points for our employees.  We have gone from just two work settings of a desk or meeting room  to eight different settings - desk, meeting room, quiet ‘hush’ room, discussion pods, team tables, café, floor hub and a ‘touch and go’ area for short stays.
“A popular analogy that is used is that of a house.  You don’t use just one room for all home activities.  ABW is about bringing this same concept to the workplace.
“As the workplace has become a home away from home for many generations and with the rise of the Gen Y and the Millennials, there will be less acceptance of an environment and leadership approach that is not aligned with their values of flexibility, individuality and innovation,” said Mr Wyllie.
Generational work styles and needs that are supported through Activity Based Working:
Generation X:  Generation X comprise 50% of the Australian working population and are characterised by an ethos of ‘work to live’ rather than ‘live to work’ like their Boomer elders.  Gen X were brought up on technology and are more open to change than previous generations.  A flexible workplace is a must for Generation X who are balancing their career ambitions with the needs of a young family.
Generation Y:  These technological whiz kids currently represent 20% of Australia’s workforce but are predicted to move up to almost  50% by 2020.  Not bound by the shackles of the traditional office environment, this generation is willing and able to work anywhere anytime.  This generation is comfortable with digital communication and are connected 24/7.
The Millennials:  (also referenced as Generation Z) are only just entering the workforce and make up less than 5% of the Australian working population, so there is limited evidence of their working style.  What is certain is their acceptance of the digital age into which they were born.  They have never known a world without computers, the internet, mobile phones, email or instant messaging. 
Baby boomers: Baby Boomers make up 25% of the Australian workforce and are increasingly extending their retirement ages.  However, in many instances they are adopting a more flexible approach to their traditional employment terms.  Many are opting for part-time, consultative roles or working from home arrangements.  Whilst their long tenure in a traditional work environment may not lend them to being ABW champions, their more flexible work practices do fit with the philosophy.