Millennial-friendly office design is an approach that reflects and enhances the workplace values that are important to the group of workers that fall into the Millennial cohort (generally viewed as those born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s), and which now represents the largest demographic in the labor market. According to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by Pew Research Center, there are nearly 54 million Millennials in the workforce, and the numbers continue to climb.
What are some of the key values that Millennials embrace, and that employers who want to recruit and retain them should capture in their office design? Generally, these include transparency, healthy living, collaboration, and flexibility.
Transparency in Office Design
Organizations can demonstrate and encourage transparency in their environment by installing glass wall systems for managers and executives, instead of classic offices. This gives managers and executives the privacy that is required of their jobs (shades/curtains can be used to enhance privacy), while at the same time reflects a commitment to openness.
Healthy Living in Office Design
Organizations can foster and support healthy living in their environment by installing windows and glass walls to allow more natural light, adding plants to help scrub away toxins and other pollutants from the air, creating breakout spaces to help employees recharge their emotional, psychological and intellectual batteries throughout the day, adding ergonomic furniture such as sit-to-stand desks, and if feasible, offering an on-site fitness center.
Collaboration in Office Design
An open office concept where cross-functioning teams co-inhabit a shared work environment is an excellent way for organizations to embrace collaboration in office design. While there has been some recent criticism of this approach, the problems that some organizations are facing — such as lack of privacy, too much noise, and so on — are not rooted in the open concept itself, which is highly effective. Rather, these challenges are typically the result of poor planning (e.g. not complimenting the open office approach with private spaces), and lack of clear policies (e.g. not enforcing acceptable standards for noise).
Flexibility in Office Design
Hot desking — which allows employees to work at any available desk or workstation vs. an assigned space — is an excellent way to capture and endorse flexibility in office design. What’s more, it is practical, cost-effective, and especially valuable when remote employees, contractors or consultants come into the office. Instead of trying (and sometimes failing) to find a suitable work area, these people simply find an available desk/workstation and function as if they were a full-time employee.
It’s Not Just About Millennials!
In closing, it is important to note that Millennials certainly are not the only benefactors of Millennial-friendly office design. Transparency, healthy living, collaboration and flexibility are important to all workers, from Boomers who are seeing retirement on the horizon, to the member of “Generation Z” who are already starting to make their way into the workforce in significant numbers. As such, changing or, if necessary, re-inventing the work environment to capture and enable these values is a long-term investment that will pay dividends for decades to come.
To learn more about making your work environment more supportive and productive for all of your employees — including the Millennials that will guide your organization into the future — contact the Key Interiors team today. Your consultation with us is free.
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