In a cover article that surely grabbed the attention of many, Time Magazine described Millennials as the “ME ME ME Generation,” calling them “lazy, entitled, narcissists.”
Although the article went on to discuss some positive attributes of the Gen Y demographic, this negative sentiment is, unfortunately, a common one.
On the other side of the argument, a team of researchers found that there’s “no truth to the popular belief that members of the so-called baby boomer generation have a greater work ethic than people born a decade or two later.”
Regardless of which expert says what, perhaps it’s time we stop criticizing and start empowering.
By 2020, over half the global population will be made up of Millennials
There’s no better time than now to begin adapting the workplace. After all, it’s these 18-35 year olds (give or take a few years, depending who you ask) who will soon be running our organizations.
A workplace for the next generation…
Millennials are extremely competent tech-users, they’re the most diverse and highly educated generation in history, and they’re motivated to make a positive difference in their world. This combination brings with it the incredible potential to redefine the way we do business – if we let them.
Here are four ways you can use office design to attract, retain, and support Millennials in the workforce:
1. Use the Office Space as a Physical Representation of Your Corporate Culture
Work culture and office environment claimed two of the top five spots on the list of factors Millennials consider with applying for a job (according to the Millennial Impact Report). This generation has little interest in participating in the daily grind for the mere benefit of a paycheque. They want more from work; they want to feel connected to it. In fact, nearly three-quarters of Millennials said they wanted their coworkers to feel like a second family. The stronger the work culture, the more likely this sense of family will develop.
Through office design, businesses can create (or enhance) a culture that aligns with the organizational goals and mission. If a top value for your business is sustainability, intentionally design every space in support of the environment. If you claim transparency as important to your business, create a space that strategically promotes communication and honesty.
2. Create an Open Work Environment That Supports Collaboration
Well over half of Millennials check their smartphones immediately upon waking up. Why? Because they want to see what the world’s been up to while they slept. They want to participate in other people’s lives.
Not surprisingly, this desire for connection translates over to the workplace. Millennials value teamwork and collaboration. Less concerned with status, they want to feel they’re contributing to a cause. And, open, collaborative workspaces support this.
While the generations who came before may have preferred private offices, meeting in the boardroom when the need to collaborate arose, this doesn’t feel natural to Gen Ys. Instead, collaboration should be constant. As such, offices designed to enhance communication (with group workstations and a mixture of formal and casual meeting areas) are necessary.
3. Trade Control for Flexibility
Finding the right work-life balance is important to Millennials, with 89 percent stating it’s the key to workplace happiness. Many even suggest they’d take a pay cut if the trade-off was a more flexible work situation.
Providing opportunities to work from home doesn’t mean a sacrifice in work quality or collaboration. Thanks to technology, Millennials can effectively conduct their work from anywhere, and will still welcome the opportunity to use the office to engage with their team.
When workers have the chance to work out of the office, it frees up valuable, unused space within the office. Commercial real estate isn’t cheap, and adapting the workspace to meet the expectations of Gen Y workers will actually help the bottom line. Less space is required when the office utilizes unassigned, flexibility workspace arrangements.
4. Trade Control for Flexibility
Technology is not simply a part of Millennials’ lives – it defines their lives. This generation grew up surrounded by and even creating much of the technology that is shaping the world today.
And with over 40 percent saying they’d willingly sacrifice their sense of smell in exchange for Internet access, it’s clear to see how integral IT is to their life. Technology is a necessity, not a perk; and given the right technological tools, this generation will drive work productivity levels up.
To make this possible, office design should support advanced IT infrastructure. The investment will pay dividends for companies who empower Millennials to confidently and skillfully streamline the way you do business.