When Generations Collide in the Workplace

AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS – Global creative workspace provider Spaces has busted the myth that flexible working and co-working is a new millennial craze, with new research showing that 51% of people born pre-1964 work remotely for more than half the week, in comparison to a similar 49% of those born after 1980.

The digital age has enabled people of all ages to work remotely more than ever before, which has in turn fuelled demand for flexible workspace. However, the latest figures from Spaces show that even digitally native consumers crave personal communications. For people born after 1980, 52% believe flexible workspace keeps employee skills up-to-date through interaction with other professionals, compared to 42% of those born pre-1964.

Spaces specialises in creating collaborative cultures and workspaces that bring people together. The Dutch company is celebrating its tenth birthday this year, having opened its first Spaces in Amsterdam in 2008. It has now over 120 locations across 39 countries worldwide, including recent additions in Hong Kong, London, New York and Paris amongst others.

“As attitudes to workplaces continue to change, it is more important than ever to understand the expectations of all employees to create a thriving culture,” says Martijn Roordink, Spaces founder and CEO.

A multi-generational workforce appreciates different aspects of a flexible workspace. Findings show that the generation born pre-1964 prioritise the productivity benefits, whereas those post-1980 prefer the creative aspects.

The findings suggest that:

  • Generations born after 1980 are more concerned (67%) about being in an inspiring work environment than those born pre-1964 (58%)
  • 55% of people born pre-1964 think that remote working locations offer a more creative environment than the regular office, compared to a global average of 68% post-1980
  • More people born after 1980 see flexible working as offering new business opportunities and new project opportunities (67%) compared to those born before 1964 (55%)

Further analysis on what inspires productivity in the working environment has revealed that:

  • Generations born after 1980 feel more strongly (23%) that having refreshments in the office is conducive to a productive working environment, compared to those born before 1964 (13%)
  • In a reverse trend, however, generations born after 1980 place less emphasis on wi-fi (78%) compared to those born before 1964 (85%), and instead a bigger focus on networking.

Business leaders increasingly see a flexible workspace strategy as a means of becoming a good employer:

  • 72% of people born post-1980 think that companies choose flexible working because it helps to motivate workers, which is a 10% increase compared to those born pre-1964
  • 84% of employees born after 1980 believe that flexible working helps companies to recruit and retain top talent, compared with 75% of those born pre-1964

 Martijn Roordink, founder of Spaces, adds:

“Creativity and collaboration can breathe new life into a company and empower employees of all ages. Sharing new ideas and knowledge across generations, as well as across functional or team silos, both informally and formally via activities such as reverse mentoring, lets others see things from a different perspective and sparks new ideas.

“Different generations may view some aspects of the office differently. No-one is right or wrong in these situations – but smart employers will find a way to ensure that all generations can contribute their best ideas for the benefit of the company and its creators alike.”

Denise Taylor, Chartered Psychologist, says:

“At work, there is a psychological contract between us and our employer - it’s not just a financial relationship. Employers have to relate to people in different ways and part of this is finding out what works for all age groups. For all industries we need to be inspired to think of creative solutions and look for ways to expand our business network. In a shared workspace like Spaces, you can meet people of different ages and backgrounds, who all come with a different set of experiences that we can learn from.

Each generation brings a unique skillset to a company – for baby boomers, it’s their strength and experience, and for millennials it’s often their creativity. Combining the two elements provides us with a new perspective which enables us to produce ‘deep work,’ where we can properly focus on the task at hand and concentrate without distraction.”



Spaces is a creative work environment with a unique entrepreneurial spirit. Our dynamic workspaces help you think, create and collaborate – while our team makes sure you feel welcome.

We believe work is about people and ideas. Technology has created a modern economy, driven by empowered individuals. This informs the way we develop inspiring workspaces – with a love for design, and where our energetic team takes care of all the details so you can focus on developing your next big idea.

Our culture is built on the energy of our community – interesting people doing exciting things. Say hello to someone new at our events, to help you connect with the buzz around you. It’s all geared toward expanding your networks and connecting you with like-minded members to link up and share ideas.

Whether you’re a small business, entrepreneur or working for a corporation, we provide more than just a place to plug in your laptop. What really makes Spaces unique is the community we’ve worked to cultivate – full of forward thinkers, innovators and game changers who love what they do.

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