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Are We Already in Danger of Generalising Gen Z?

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I recently came across this article titled “Generation Z is the smart generation that will redefine work“.  It’s solid, obviously well-conducted and well-meaning research intended to help the property industry position new products and services to meet the demands and expectations of the next generation of knowledge workers, known as Generation Z.

While I am not against looking to the next generation to understand possible trends that will influence the future built environment, the article overstates the significance of the desires of a bunch of kids who are at most 15 years old.  Expecting them to understand how their lifestyle preferences of today might mature into workstyle choices tomorrow is ambitious at best.

Of course Gen Z teens would like their built environments to work like their iPhones!  And it’s quite understandable they prefer to lease major purchases rather than buy them, as I suspect teenage access to capital is rather constrained!  We should not be too quick to assume we can define and design for the desires of an entire generation:

If the current trend towards a more entrepreneurial, networked, sharing economy continues, Gen Z may not even work in (or create) organisations and office buildings as we know them today.


This is not a criticism of the research, simply a caution not to read too much into it.  I feel we may be in danger of over-generalising Gen Z, just as we have with Gen Y, and in seeing game-changing business trends when it’s just today’s teenage selfie.

Originally posted to my LinkedIn Profile PULSE here

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