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Here's How Millennials Are Driving Office Space Design

Posted by Christy Cooper on Jul 25, 2017 11:01:00 AM
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Stella-pop-image of business friends discussing brainstorming and ideas at meeting inside beautiful modern building place-1.jpegThe Rise of the Millennials

The workplace landscape is changing. Millennials (anyone born after the year 1980 to about the early 2000s), are establishing themselves in the workforce.  They number about 92 million in the U.S. and their mentality is quite distinct from their Baby Boomer (people born between 1946 and 1964) and Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979) counterparts.

The Millennial Mindset

Many Baby Boomers are traditionally more concerned with development, raises, and salaries. Millennials are more concerned with flexibility and collaboration, and also want more of a work-life integration. With this in mind, millennials are looking for companies that align with their values – such as its employees, customers, and community. This allows them to have more sense of purpose rather than just a paycheck. Millennials also value recognition and appreciation maybe more than pay, power, or position. Many companies have responded by offering face-to-face coaching, feedback forms, and career conversations. Beyond this, they react more quickly when they see hypocrisy between the companies’ values and their subsequent actions. They are also more eager to offer input and opinions about the company’s operations and its future.

In addition to a more relaxed dress code and flex days, how do you create an attractive office layout for millennials? It’s time to go beyond the bean bag chairs. 

Office Space Design For Millennials

According to Paladino, roughly 70% of millennials believe attendance at the office on a regular basis is unnecessary. With more employees taking their work to common spaces — like Starbucks or other open areas — property managers have to change the way they think about office space design.

To attract this age group, managers should make the workplace open and inviting. Millennials don’t want to be shut off by barriers like cubicles for their office layout. 

They also often want to bring the work outdoors, so properties with common outside spaces are going to be more popular with this group (as long as it has wifi). Patios and seating areas will appeal to millennials and will set the residential properties apart.

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  • College Throwback: Roughly 90% of corporations are recruiting on campus. A suitable collegiate design offers some familiar territory for these young employees, to make the transition to their new digs more comfortable. 
  • The Power of Natural Light: Studies have shown that employees who have windows with daylight get 46 more minutes of sleep per night. Rather than situate managerial or C-level offices with windows, move common areas and meeting rooms closer to daylight exposure.
  • Acoustics: One of the problems with the much-preferred open office space design is the chatter. A solution to this problem is a ‘quiet zone’ in the office layout – which is geared toward things like phone calls, smaller meetings, and work requiring absolute concentration. Many companies like Keilhauer design furniture which directs people and sounds in a more precise direction, to help eliminate peripheral noise and other distractions.
  • Adding a Third Space: Akin to the open-office layout, the third space provides a casual island for individual mediation or relaxation, small meetings, or intimate socializing for employees.
  • Ergonomics: One of the most overlooked elements of the workplace.  Traditional office furniture can often stagnate employees. Some vendors however have responded with items like the sit-stand adjustable desk – which are gaining popularity. As well as treadmill desks, which will no doubt have FitBit fans in your office crush their comrades in their “work week hustle” challenge. 

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  • Office Technology: Many companies make the mistake of assuming that millennials, because of their tech-savvy upbringing, will be able to acclimate to any software thrown at them. However, millennials – who are usually fluent with programs like Snapchat and Instagram – prefer more consumer-based technology. As a result, companies which offer user-friendly technology usually see an increase in productivity. Slack, which was launched in August 2013 – is one such platform which was designed with this type of consumer interface in mind.
  • Amenities: Studies have also shown that amenities are moving up higher on the shopping list of new hires. A survey by Manpower estimated that over 70% of millennials worked 40 hours or more per week. Instead of dividing the work-life balance, newer designs are focused on a synthesis of work-life – so employees can take care of things in-house rather than leave the office. A company gym and a strategically placed ATM are two examples of this. New Balance raised the bar on amenities when they opened a commuter station at their Boston HQ.
  • Coffee & Fresh Food: Millennials drink more coffee than any other generation. Also, they’re more used to specialty brewing from companies like Starbucks – and European-style java. A simple investment in a coffee or espresso machine adds an attractive dimension for millennial candidates. FREE coffee, for everyone! Millennials spend more money on healthy/organic food than any other group. They are shown to value fresh food even over fitness. If a company has invested in an onsite cafeteria, they might go one step further and seek vendors offering fresh/healthy foods to stock. 

Change – The One Constant in the Universe

Lastly, millennials are generally more open to and expect change:  The ‘one size fits all’ model doesn’t work for companies anymore: They must all be tailor-made to morph into what they need to be, and always be open to the perpetual flux of change.

Do you need help space planning for millennials? How about some general assitance with design and architecture? Contact StellaPop today with all your office designing needs.

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