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Like it or Not, Millennials Are Changing Office Environments


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We’ve all heard rumors about Google’s office - scooters, legos, copious amounts of free food. Facebook embraces its startup culture with an internal bike shop. Twitter offers free laundry services. Thrillist offers paid time off on your birthday every year. The youngest generation to hit the workforce has set of a wave of new office habits, needs, and wants.

By 2020, millennials will make up 40-50% of the working population. Although not every millennial wants to work at a startup, their wants are very different than previous generations — and not every industry has adapted seamlessly to these changes and the advent of technology. When working with new tenants, regardless of their industry, keep in mind these key millennial impacts.

Globalization and Technology

There’s an app for that. Millennials (and Generation Z-ers) have never known professional life without the internet. Can your building keep up with the demand of information, when peers and competitors are just a text, email, or tweet away? The workplace must adapt to working from anywhere, connecting with global offices, data security, and mobility within the office itself. The real estate industry is adapting, from flexible Steelcase furniture configurations to internet connectivity ratings with WiredScore.

More Collaborative and Flexible

On a related note, internal physical flexibility and collaboration is just as important. Technology brought on the sharing economy, which in turn brought a wave of access to information, not ownership of it. Employees are collaborating and sharing knowledge, from brainstorming to execution. They’re working in pods, having impromptu meetings on the stairs, hanging out at team lunch, and brainstorming in huddle rooms. Cubicles have effectively disappeared from the millennial-focused workplace. All employees are able to contribute and feel essential. Your tenant space needs to allow for flexibility. Show you know your stuff with walkthroughs of successful collaborative environments, suggestions on hand for space use, and recommendations for interior designers and furniture manufacturers.

Branding and Culture

In a 2014 study, the White House identified millennials' key priorities: family, community and creativity. In an office environment, this translates to a strong brand, space to be proud of, and room to grow. The trend is no longer kitschy for kitschy’s sake. Tenants want a space that reflects their brand, operations style, and business objectives. The advent of WeWork and other coworking spaces means young companies can have a big impact on a small dime - be prepared to compete with great amenities, easy branding and PR opportunities, and built-in community. In a recent survey of 80 owners, 80% believe that “Creative space utilization and marketing is becoming more important to my business.”

Offices Becoming More Like Home

Millennials never quit. The 9-5 became the 8-6 became the 24/7 as the work day adapted to globalization and technology. Early birds are in from 7am-6pm, night owls are in from 11am-10pm, we don’t bat an eye at 3am emails. Your cell phone is an extension of your arm and now talks to your car, computer, 1Password, and dating life. Work-life balance is no longer about keeping it even, but a seamless integration between the two. In response to this 24/7 life, workspaces are beginning to look like living environments. Offices are outfitted with gyms, resource libraries, and game rooms. Pantries are complete with cabinets full of cereal and a beer fridge next to the regular refrigerator. Some offices have even gone so far as to install green walls, so you really never have to go outside. Outside the office, there’s a demand for urban, mixed-use environments that offer ease of socializing, dining, living and working. This ease of access is exciting for previous generations, but probably won’t lead to them staying at work until 11pm.

In Conclusion: Competition

There is a push for better and better office spaces. Better and better perks. The job market is rebounding and technology is evolving. More of the younger tech-savvy generation is joining the workforce. The news is telling us to go go go and try to stay ahead of the pack. Your tenants are feeling the pressure to meet these demands, and you can help them do it.

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ABOUT
Katie Paxton Christ
Katie is a marketing manager at Hightower. Previously, she worked at VOA Associates, and is a graduate of Dartmouth.

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