With each passing year, workplace design evolves in response to generational shifts. Office dynamics are witnessing the professional growth of Millennials, a consequential force in the workplace and soon to be America’s largest living adult generation. As the battle rages on to attract and retain the most talented employees, organizations have recognized that design is no longer ruled by company type or a one-size-fits-all blueprint. Space must be designed with people in mind and the demands of Millennials have grown louder as they continue to flood into the workplace. This wave of young talent has forced employers to adapt to their preferences, incorporating design elements that keep them working happy and productively. Let’s explore a few of these elements that are growing in popularity thanks to Millennials.
Image Source; Office Snapshots, BCG Digital Ventures in Manhattan Beach, CA
Millennials in the Workplace
More than one-in-three American workers (35%) are Millennials, making them the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Over 56 million Millennials (ages 21 to 36 in 2017) were working or looking for work in 2017 and the population continues to grow. Statistics project that by 2030 over 75% of our workforce will be comprised of Millennials. This hyper-connected, tech savvy demographic has quite literally taken over the workforce, bringing with them notably different working styles and preferences than other generations. The modern office has been forced to not only adapt, but to set themselves apart from the competition and use their space as an advantage in the talent war. Perimeter offices are disappearing, floor plans are opening up and popular third spaces are replacing the traditional rigid workplace layout in order to meet the demands of our youngest generations. Many of the design elements that Millennials crave are topics we have previously covered on the blog, but we will touch on a few of these trends that have become workplace staples thanks to this generation’s rise in the workplace.
Design Trends Driven by Millennials
Millennials have solidified autonomy as an essential element in the modern office, demanding choice in where, when and how they work. As we discussed in our feature on The Transient Worker, studies have found that this generation values flexibility over a salary increase and they are willing to leave a job in order to secure it. Millennials don’t want to be boxed into a cubicle or held hostage in a stuffy conference room. Their ideal workplace is one that provides them with flexible working practices and adaptable design elements, offering opportunities for both privacy and collaboration throughout the office. Benching systems, mobile work carts, communal tables and movable partition walls are just a few examples of flexible design elements that are now commonly incorporated into the office.
Image Source: Office Snapshots, Netflix HQ in Los Gatos, CA
It comes as no surprise that Millennials value connectedness. They are not just technology literate, this generation struggles to recall life before the Internet, they’ve always had a cell phone and it is common practice to share their life via social media. Technology is ingrained in their lives and they view it as a vital workplace component. As mentioned above, corporate spaces have become increasingly flexible in recent years as our youngest generations demand adaptability and autonomy throughout their workspace. This desire for mobility has pushed organizations to integrate technology throughout the office, allowing employees freedom to move about their space while remaining connected and productive. There is no question that advancements on the technological front and their inclusion into the office will continue to play a monumental role in attracting and retaining Millennials and future generations.
The corporate “third space” ties into many of the above concepts and can be placed throughout the office. Similar to a popular coffee house or hotel lobby, third spaces mix the comforts of home with the productivity of the office. These informal areas foster collaboration, creativity and decompression, providing employees with integrated technology and a variety of amenities for maximum comfort. Workplace kitchens and cafes, telephone rooms, refreshment bars and even game and fitness rooms are all considered corporate third spaces and play a tremendous role in captivating Millennial talent.
Image Source: Office Snapshots, Etsy Offices in NYC
Employees don’t often have the opportunity to get outside over the course of a long day, making the incorporation of biophilic design elements a critical factor in attracting and retaining a talented workforce. Endless studies highlighting the intrinsic relationship humans share with nature have pushed our youngest workers towards greener workplace design and practices in recent years. Thoughtfully planned and implemented natural touches such as plants and vertical gardens, natural graphics, windows and outdoor patios harness an abundance of physical and physiological benefits and boost both individual and organizational productivity. While employees should be encouraged to get out and into nature, integrating biophilic touches will ensure workers stay connected to the outdoors and maintain a sense of health and wellness. You can read more about the powerful benefits of natural light and biophilia on the blog, all of which have popularized this design trend and made it a key selling point for Millennials.
The hazardous effects of sedentary work have become increasingly evident in recent years with long hours and rising stress levels. The incorporation of ergonomically-friendly design elements have become a wise investment for organizations, untethering employees from their desks and positively impacting employee health and wellness. Height-adjustable tables and desks, monitor arms, keyboard trays and adjustable conference and desk chairs reduce fatigue, improve productivity and provide healthy postural variation and movement throughout the office. More information on office ergonomics and workplace solutions can be found on the CDI blog.
Image Source: Office Snapshots, Clifford Chance Offices in Hong Kong
Millennials have undoubtedly popularized the open office layout in recent years, boosting organizational transparency and the opportunity for coworking. An obvious side effect to this trend is decreased audio privacy. Rather than forcing employees to use their headphones eight hours a day and shut themselves off from their coworkers, sound masking systems and acoustical solutions allow organizations to maintain their open office while providing noise control for individuals and groups. You can learn more about acoustical design solutions that keep employees working happy, healthy and efficiently on the blog.
Transforming the Workplace
Millennials are looking for far more than a paycheck when it comes to choosing their ideal work environment. Their preferences and demands have reshaped workplace design, forcing organizations to think beyond the traditional office desk and chair. The elements detailed here appeal to our youngest generations and play a monumental role in attracting and retaining today’s top talent. For further guidance in designing a space that seamlessly supports our modern workforce and provides them with the tools they need to remain happy and productive, contact a member of the CDI team.
Featured Image Source: Kimball Chicago Showroom
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Corporate Design Interiors (CDI) is an industry-leading commercial furniture dealership whose award-winning product knowledge, thoughtful design coupled with strategic planning deliver functional and inspiring interiors designed to foster employee well-being, productivity and engagement. CDI’s relentless focus on delivering positive workplaces mirroring the culture and vision of companies while delivering a high value investment has earned CDI diverse clients including; established Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits/public sector and energetic startups.
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