A New Lease on Office Space for Millennials

Goodbye corner offices and cubicle farms, hello wide open spaces. Millennials are a generation accustomed to cooperation and unimpressed by hierarchy, so it makes sense that Gen Y workers prefer office space that encourage collaboration and socializing. And, given millennials’ reliance on mobile technology, they’re not as tied to their desks, preferring to work in settings like coffee shops, meeting rooms, or even outdoors.

In their quest to attract and retain millennials, many companies are rethinking their physical offices to fit millennial employees’ preferences. Here are some trends I’ve seen that reflect millennials’ impact on work spaces and places.

End of the Corner Office: D.C. Law Firm Designs Its New Space for Millennials – The Washington Post. “The firm is moving from its more traditional formal office — heavy on the marble, big desks and other markers of status — to an airy and open one designed not for baby boomers like Costellia, 51, but with up-and-coming millennials in mind. And no one will have a corner office anymore. ‘The physical spaces in most law firms tend to be built for prestige. This is really an opportunity to turn that on its head,’ said Jeffrey Lesk, 61, managing partner of the D.C. office overseeing the move. ‘Law firm leases typically go for 15 years. When you think ahead, it becomes really clear really quickly that the vast majority of people now in the law office won’t be here in 15 years. So we had to think, ‘Who are we building for?’ ”

Open Offices Back in Vogue — Thanks To Millennials Forbes. “Many consider open offices a less stuffy alternative to cubicle life. In theory, this design promotes transparency and fairness: Fewer walls and doors make management seem more approachable and encourage information to flow freely. … Millennials…are this layout’s biggest proponents. This arrangement is well-suited for a group-oriented generation that values the opportunity to socialize, work in teams, and get help from co-workers. Their mobile style of working also means that they don’t equate space with worth and are eager for more egalitarian spaces that encourage everyone to contribute.”

If You Want Millennial Employees, Then Build a Millennial Office – AccountingWEB. “Brian Shapland, general manager of office furniture design company turnstone, a Steelcase brand, says employees in 2015 expect a lot more from their office space than a dreary, slate-grey cubicle with its push-pin walls and slice-of-window view. ‘Today’s professionals want the freedom and choice to work where and how they want, which means they no longer want to be tethered to a single workstation for eight hours a day,’ Shapland said. ‘They want spaces that inspire them, that allow them to be themselves and collaborate with others, and unlock their potential.’ Shapland said this trend is especially important to millennials who grew up with mobile technology and are used to working in optimal, not obligatory, environments.”

Eight Cutting-Edge Workplaces That Millennials Will Love – CIO. LPL Financial had employees spread across several buildings in San Diego. In an effort to unite those workers and encourage greater productivity, the company moved them into a single, modernized building. LPL installed ergonomic desks that can be adjusted for sitting or standing, HD videoconference tools with multiple screens and cameras, and an open layout that provides an outside view for 94 percent of its workspaces. Sara Nomellini, senior vice president of real estate at LPL, says the redesign helps engage existing employees, and attract and retain millennials. ‘Millennials want to work someplace where they are proud of their company. Demonstrating that appreciation of them and creating a productive and comfortable workspace contributes to that.’”

The Impact of Millennials on Office Space Development – RealConnex.com. “The changing face of the U.S. workplace is an important CRE [commercial real estate] trend that can be laid at the millennial doorstep. Millennials and the start-up culture favor open floorplans and collaborative workspaces. They value flexibility and common areas that are set up for specific tasks rather than specific people. With mobile technology driving tasks, there is less reason to be tied to a desk or holed up in private office. Millennials like to work in different areas of the space, like lounges, coffee bars or outdoor spaces. Increasingly, space is being redesigned to meet their expectations. Expectations for workplace amenities have also been heavily influenced by millennials, who appreciate locations near city attractions, like museums and dining, as well as convenient transit options. Within the workspace itself, employers are looking to provide extras like lounges, game rooms, and gym spaces that encourage employees to spend more time at the office and to like it.”

Has your organization updated its physical space to appeal to millennials? I’d love to hear your experience in the comments!

Lindsey Pollak is the leading voice on millennials in the workplace, trusted by global companies, universities, and the world’s top media outlets — and, most importantly, by millennials themselves. A New York Times bestselling author, Lindsey began her career as a dorm RA in college and has been mentoring millennials — and explaining them to other generations — ever since. Her keynote speeches have audiences so engaged that, in the words of one attendee, “I didn’t check my phone once!” Contact Lindsey to discuss a speaking engagement for your organization.

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Lindsey is a globally recognized career and workplace expert and the leading voice on generational diversity. She has spoken for more than 300 audiences including Google, Goldman Sachs, Estee Lauder, Stanford and Wharton. Lindsey is the author of four career and workplace advice books, and her insights have appeared in media outlets including The TODAY Show, CNBC, NPR, the Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal.


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