The preferences of millennials are having an increasing influence on the way companies design office spaces. With a recent estimate by the Brookings Institute showing that 75 percent of the workforce will consist of millennials by 2025, many employers are beginning to see the value of shifting away from traditional office designs.
Between research showing that sitting for long periods of time is detrimental to health and the open nature of millennial culture, it would seem that the days of the traditional cubicle are numbered. More and more companies are abandoning closed-in offices in favor of open areas with multiple workstations that employees can move between throughout the day. Some are also embracing the idea of recreational space that includes couches, lounge chairs, televisions and even mini-fridges to give employees a place to relax and have conversations in a less structured environment.
The millennial generation grew up with perpetual connections to their friends, classmates and colleagues, and they’re bringing this sense of collaboration to the workplace. Rather than sitting isolated at the same desk for eight hours every day, they prefer to work in spaces that allow information and ideas to flow freely from person to person. Integrated apps built for teamwork facilitate this flow by allowing employees to remain in touch with each other and with the office even when working at remote sites.
In their younger years, millennials developed preferences for both location and atmosphere in the places where they work and study. Brian Shapland, the general manager of the office furniture design company Turnstone, summed it up by saying that this generation seeks “the freedom and choice to work where and how they want.” For some, that could mean sitting outside under a tree with a laptop or tablet. Others may get more done while sipping a latte at the local coffee shop.
The rise of “bring-your-own-device” (BYOD) policies is making this kind of flexibility easier to achieve, but the change isn’t without its risks. Employing a workforce that can choose when and how they work has the potential to undermine the important authoritative hierarchy of the office environment, and blurring the lines between personal and professional device use can pose serious threats to data security.
With the preference of millennials in mind, companies are beginning to modify their offices to create task-driven workspaces rather than areas assigned specifically to individual workers. This new layout caters to diverse working styles and gives each employee the opportunity to find the atmosphere that best facilitates concentration.
A modernized office space design may bring in more millennials, but before restructuring your entire workspace, consider the comfort of all of your employees. If creating a new layout will distract more people than it helps, you could lose valuable talent. However, if a change is beneficial to the majority of the staff, it may be time to consider a new arrangement to facilitate greater productivity.
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