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The age-old adage of not being able ‘to teach old dogs new tricks,’ has in recent years become redundant. With the reality of a multi-generational workforce now in place, everyone from the Gen Z’s to the Silent Gen is navigating the murky waters of a trans-generational no man's land. It’s a tough one that comes with a new set of demands and expectations that can impact the functioning of a company or team. However, it also provides great opportunities that come with any type of diversity. And breaking down age gap stereotypes in the workplace is easier than one might expect - it’s more about instilling company values and beliefs, encouraging collaboration as opposed to competition, with less placement on bias, and more on understanding how to best leverage generational diversity for positive impact in the workspace.


Understanding the working Age Gap



Paul Keursten and Mark Seftel, co-founders and joint CEO’s of Workshop17, Africa’s no 1 flexible, friction-free and fully serviced workspaces, debunk this generational pigeon-holing. While Paul sits on the Boomer / Gen X fence, (theoretically speaking only) Mark fits un-squarely into the Gen X category, neither fit their profile. Together with Mark’s tech-savvy digital insight and Paul’s innovative and flexible approach to the workspace (*see Gen Y & Z for details), the two have created a platform (Workshop17) that provides the opportunity for multigenerational collaboration, as well giving members access to information, learning and networking opportunities.

Paul believes that age diversity in the workforce comes with many benefits, he understands that different generations prefer different ways of doing business, and shares “There’s no right or wrong way of doing business, but rather, a workspace should be conducive to collaboration, and should encourage the combination of knowledge. Curiosity to learn from each other and respect for different ways are key drivers for innovation and productivity.” Paul isn’t a fan of typecasting people into generational categories, and shares: “the benefits of a multigenerational workforce, particularly in a shared workspace, is that it offers multiple perspectives, thus increasing in problem solving capacity as well as the opportunity for both learning and mentorship. It’s a valuable asset to any company. This goes for generational diversity, but similarly applies to other forms of diversity, like cultural and professional diversity.”

Mark sees Workshop17 as a workspace which strives to deliver multiplicity and in doing so, it becomes impossible for the traditional office to compete with. “Diversity of thought, background, perspective and indeed age creates a warm, interesting and creative place to work,” shares Mark.  “Workspaces in general and single tenant offices, especially in SA are exposed to all manners of contrived and unnatural inhibitors of innovation and creativity. At Workshop17 everyone, regardless of their ‘generation’ is considered relevant and equal.”

A multigenerational workspace brings a talented pipeline to the table – it drives creativity and offers a multifaceted perspective to help solve real and urgent problems that our economy and society face. While grey in the workplace might be the new black, collaborating across the generations is where we need to be. Working together from a point of strength instead of weakness, from a place of curiosity instead of judgement, collaborating to build ideas instead of competing to break them down.  Shared workspaces like Workshop17 offer a climate that crosses the age gap, bringing about flexibility and adaptability to allow for greater cross generational communication and innovation in the workplace.

By: Penelope Meniere –  Marketing Manager at Workshop17


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