You can love them or you can complain about them, but one thing you can’t deny is that millennials are starting to infiltrate the corporate world in droves. These young go-getters bring with them an impressive set of attributes: an entrepreneurial mindset, technological prowess, and the utmost care for the greater good. In an attempt to attract the best and brightest of this coveted demographic to their workplaces, employers are ramping up efforts to make their office spaces as attractive to this younger generation as possible. They know that if their place of work isn’t an innovative environment that inspires creativity and innovation, new graduates will head elsewhere to start their careers.
What are some of the workplace changes we’ve seen in the past few years? Here are six ways millennials have impacted corporate office space.
- Spaces that facilitate collaboration.
For several decades, cubicles were ubiquitous in both urban and suburban office spaces, but millennials want the walls taken down altogether. Sure, the higher ups at most companies usually have their own offices with walls and doors, but those people tend to not be of the millennial generation anyway. Millennial workspaces are all about community and collaboration. Older generations find it distracting, but millennials find it inspiring! Yes, there are workstations, but they’re often unassigned; there are desks, and anyone can sit at any one of them. For workers who don’t even want a desk, there are large tables. And for times when focus is required, millennial employees may find a quiet work pod, slip on their Beats headphones, and work in relative peace for a few hours. Bottom line: if you’re looking to attract millennial employees, consider the layout of your office carefully, and provide zones for collaboration and zones for focused individual work.
- Location, location, location.
You may drive to work, but don’t expect millennials to do the same. Many rely on public transportation for getting around, so if your business is located in or near a major city, you’ll want to make sure you’re close to public transportation. Additionally, many millennials get to work in less conventional ways: they walk, they bike, and they may even ride a skateboard. A city that’s friendly to non-drivers, as well as places on site to lock up bikes and other non-motorized vehicles are a big plus in the eyes of millennial employees.
- Greener spaces.
More than other generations, millennials are extremely concerned with environmental friendliness in all aspects of their lives, including and especially in the workplace. LEED certified buildings, furnishings that are made from environmentally conscious materials, and a concerted effort to recycle and even compost can all go a long way in attracting employees who are millennials.
- Branding and storytelling for loyalty.
If millennials feel connected emotionally to their employer, they’re more likely to work harder and not jump ship when the going gets tough. To foster this sense of loyalty, employers are branding their office spaces, immersing employees in their core values and beliefs, and designing office elements that help to tell the company’s story. An interesting example of this in action is housewares company OXO. They’re always aware that their products need to work with many different hands, and as such, embracing diversity is part of their overarching philosophy. As a reminder of this belief, the company proudly displays lost gloves on a wall in their office, and encourages employees to bring in lost gloves that they’ve found to add to the collection. Their Wall of Gloves is legendary among New York businesses because it’s such a poignant reminder of what OXO stands for, and it’s a point of pride for their employees.
- Less like work, more like home.
You may be worried about work-life balance, but millennials aren’t. Instead, they’re all about work-life integration. Millennials aren’t afraid of working long hours, provided that their workspace offers some comforts of home. To keep employees happy, companies are providing kitchen areas stocked with munchies and even beer, a variety of different work areas (including comfy couches and even outdoor desks in more temperate regions), gyms, full bathrooms with showers and lockers, and even spaces for power naps. Plus, fun is no longer optional — it’s fundamental.
An idea Albert Gjonbalaj, CEO of UA Builders group also echoed when talking about WeWork – “By promoting millennial values like work/life balance, workplace flexibility, cohesive, team-oriented culture, and communal environments, WeWork is driving the development of flexible workspaces, replacing private offices with task-specific spaces and common areas that encourage dialogue, community and productivity.” He proceeded to say, “Companies looking to attract the millennial demographic need to embody their unique outlook and reflect it throughout the workplace.”
Many employers are even adding things like an air hockey or pool table so employees can chat over some friendly competition, putting greens, basketball hoops, or anything to help take the edge off and help employees engage in some kinetic creativity.
- The possibility of no office.
Sometimes, instead of going to a workplace that has homelike amenities, millennials would just rather work from home. Many employers either have or are considering a telecommuting policy; some allow employees to work from home once or twice a week, while other companies have set days where everyone is in the office and days when everyone works from home. This means that employers need to set their employees up with the right technology to telecommute and be willing to share files and hold some meetings via video conferencing.