The workforce is changing and so must the workspace
By 2020, the Millennial generation (those born between 1980 and 2000) will make up more than half of the workforce. Much has been written about Millennials, and whether you like or dislike them, there is no question that they are different than any generation that has come before them in the workforce.
Because Millennials will be the driving force in organizations for the next three decades, their preferences, strengths and weaknesses are already shaping HR strategy around the world. So it should be no surprise that Millennials’ preferences in the office are changing commercial real estate.
The comforts of home
Millennials are used to an always-connected environment, so they don’t separate work from home life quite as drastically as previous generations. Sometimes, they like to stay at home and work remotely. When they come to the office, they want the office environment to feel more like home, a trend many are calling “work-casual” design.
Employers can accommodate and support the trend towards work-life integration by providing employees with some of the comforts of home. This includes a kitchen with places to store their own food and some areas to relax and socialize that might include different lighting and plush, comfortable furnishings.
Places to create and collaborate
Millennials collaborate everywhere—from social spaces such as the kitchen to huddle rooms and open working areas. They like to have flexibility to be able to move around the workplace and collaborate with any employee who can deliver new ideas for a project. In the rush to create open spaces, don’t forget employees will still need a quiet place occasionally. When it comes to intensely focused work, 62% of high performing employees find their open workplace too distracting.
Healthy, greener offices
Millennials have great concern for the environment and also want to integrate fitness and health goals into their work lives. Having an office gym is an obvious way to help busy, young employees stay physically fit. Access to natural light (windows) and plants have been shown to increase productivity.
Consider health in your office design and furnishing as well. Since “sitting is the new smoking,” why not offer employees the choice of standing desks? For seated workspaces, make sure chairs provide proper ergonomic support. The right keyboards and mice can help avoid the pain and cost of carpal tunnel syndrome.
Because of their environmental concerns, Millennial employees will appreciate buildings that used recycled or reclaimed materials in office design. They like employers that provide alternative commuting options, including good location vis-à-vis public transportation and features such as bike storage. Finally, Millennials appreciate efforts made by employers to conserve energy through LED lighting, smart thermostats and other technology—and these ideas also reduce business operational costs.
All of the best technology
It would be hard to overemphasize the love that Millennials have for technology. They have grown up fully in the age of personal computers, cellular phones, and video gaming systems. Life for Millennials has been chock-full of technology, and they expect the workplace to offer the technology they enjoy outside the office, plus additional productivity enhancing tools.
Employers should deliver flawless connectivity for both cellular and Wi-Fi throughout the building. Of course, this applies to all working areas and offices, but it should be equally effective in the lobby, the elevators, the kitchen and the office gym.
Collaborative technology should include cloud-based applications for sharing documents and storing work product. Every organization with multiple locations or remote workers will need a web meeting and teleconferencing solution. In some organizations, video conferencing may also be desirable. Real-time messaging apps let employees communicate textually in real time.
Teams will also benefit from cloud-based project and performance management apps. Businesses should consider adding younger employees to their technology committees, in order to gain insight into the types of technology Millennials consider top-notch tools for increasing productivity, automation and collaboration.
Technology for Millennial flexibility in the office
Office Hoteling solutions from Asure Software can help employers provide the right work spaces for Millennial employees who often work both within and outside of the office.