‘You collaborate, old Millennial dude. I’ve got work to do.’


Just when you’ve carefully architected and curated the optimal collaborative environment for your Millennial workers, you’ve got to do a 180 and turn the office into a citadel of solitude!

Corey Seemiller, an associate professor at Wright State University, tells Bisnow’s Miriam Hall that Generation Z workers — people born roughly around 1997 and after — work and learn differently than their immediate predecessors.

“They are intrapersonal learners,” Seemiller says. “They love learning, but do it on their own. If they are forced to collaborate, it’s going to be overwhelming.”

“It’s going to be overwhelming”? That seems a little excessive, but Seemiller has written four books about Gen Z, and my experience is limited to raising two Gen Z children (and one on the borderline), so I must defer to his expertise.

Members of Gen Z, he says, “don’t like the idea of sitting in a glass room and collaborating all day. They want independent time to work on projects.”

I think that’s a good thing, if we consider that one of the most valuable traits workers can have — valuable for themselves and their employers — is the willingness and ability to constantly learn. Gen Z doesn’t need to have its hand held to learn about a subject or develop a skill — there’s a game for that! I’m only half-joking: Technology, particularly gamification, has had a big impact on Gen Z, more so than the Millennials. Why wouldn’t it impact how they learn and want to do their jobs?

Enterprise leaders constantly are warned that their organizations must remain agile and adaptable. Usually this advice is in the context of technology and business processes, but it also applies to cultures. The times are always a-changing, and organizations always must be ready to adapt to how their employees learn and work. Forcing them to do it “your way” will only drive them away.

So don’t be offended if your Gen Z workers take a pass on a brainstorming session, joint learning module, or office happy hour. They’re just doing their thing.

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