Young, demanding and often precocious, it is not easy to attract Generation Y workers (those born between 1979 and 1997) to the office. Yet for many companies, it is imperative to their growth and future success. Given the tough economic environment, the majority of businesses are running lean – and needing to employ the very best workers given that they aren’t employing huge numbers. They need to recruit individuals who can do the job well, and who will also stay with the company through the years. In essence, they need people who can innovate, strategise and take them to a new level within their respective industries – and in many instances, these workers are members of Generation Y.

Many of the new emerging ‘knowledge’ jobs require new skills which only the younger generation posses. This has placed Generation Y workers in great demand. In many cases, they can pick and choose where they want to work, and what they require from the position to make it worth their while. Yet critically, they aren’t only concerned about their remuneration – but the environment they work in.

As a result, attracting Gen Y isn’t only about the money or having the best office, it is about designing an office in such a way that it encourages knowledge sharing and collaboration – activities that come naturally to these workers.

So how can you do it?

Today, team work dominates knowledge work because collaboration is the basis for getting to new ideas faster, innovating and becoming a trendsetter. Individual workspaces are shrinking and the freed-up space is being used for more shared spaces that people can adapt to the work at hand, whether it’s individual task work or collaborating with others – both in person or via technology. The best workplaces easily adapt to these new ways of working. When workers can adapt their environment to their work, it saves money and time, and allows the organisation to use space more efficiently. Planning and managing this new workplace begins with understanding the types of knowledge work and the different kinds of knowledge that result from them. Finally, it requires having a thorough understanding of what makes Gen Y workers tick, and ensuring that the workplace is an outlet – rather than an obstacle – for their success.

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