What Do Millennials Want in Office Space?

Now that millennials have entered the workforce, we should understand their preferences to create productive office environments that attract talent.

A millennial is anyone born between 1982 and 2000. When people read those dates, they are always shocked. There’s usually someone who says “I didn’t realize I was a millennial.”

Millennials account for 25% of the American population. They are the largest generation in the workforce, bigger than the Baby Boomers by almost 10 million. Even though millennials are one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse generations, they’ll be pushing some broad trends into their work environments.

It’s no surprise that companies go out of their way to seduce talented people. If you’re smart, you’ll find out what your ideal employee wants and build an office environment that suits them.

That’s a critical strategy for hiring millennial employees, who change jobs every one to four years. According to State Street Global Advisors, 44% of millennials plan to leave their current position in the next two years, which means keeping them around is harder than previous generations.

You don’t need orange slides that wind between floors or treehouse offices to attract and retain millennials, but you should make these concessions.

Before you hire millennials, make sure you understand these common myths.

The end of the 9 to 5

millennial-work-hours

A Bentley University study found that most millennials prefer a flexible work schedule. 77% say that open-ended work hours would make them more productive. They prioritize work/life balance over work itself, and want to be available for life experiences.

The same study found that 80% of millennials are willing to check work messages and contribute to company goals well after work hours. Interestingly, they integrate their job functions into their life, so that responding to a work email at a restaurant or taking a quick phone call on Sunday doesn’t feel like an interruption, so long as personal interruptions are permitted during work hours.

How does this preference affect your office space? To court millennials, you should provide an accessible office. Give them access during nontraditional work hours, even if it means giving everyone a key. Let them use their own tools (laptops and phones) so work is always available. Most importantly, stop thinking of an empty chair as poor work ethic. Instead, measure results.

Your tech should be cutting edge

Millennials were born into technology. The oldest millennials have been using cell phones since they were in high school. The youngest had smart phones in elementary school. They work, socialize, and live their lives through technology.

Art Papas, CEO of Bullhorn, Inc., says it perfectly: “Millennials don’t look at technology as an extra. They expect to be able to use it in all aspects of their lives, including at home, in the community, and on the job.”

Millennials look for ways to make their jobs easier and faster. They want the flexibility that can only be achieved with modern technology. Don’t burden them with ancient computers. Be prepared to pay for that premium software tool. That said, many millennials are comfortable with “bring your own device” policies because it gives them freedom to work wherever and whenever they please (which could save you money).

Furthermore, give your younger, computer literate team members the freedom to implement and design their own tools. If you give them the tools you need, they will reward you with productivity.

Open office layouts aren’t what they seem

Image source: K2 Space / Flickr
Image source: K2 Space / Flickr

For years now, there has been a push for giant, open floor plans where everyone works in the same room. The idea is that millennials value communication and collaboration, so companies have literally attempted to break down barriers between employees. In fact, research shows that newer offices have been deliberately designed to represent the open spaces of college work/study environments. Fewer walls mean more talking, right?

Sure, but that’s not always a good thing. Open spaces create a pressure to look busy. When a CEO walks into the room, everyone wants to be at their desk, seemingly at work, even if collaboration (which is good work in the context of an open space) is better performed at the water cooler.

Furthermore, open offices are distracting. An employee’s productivity and creativity are squashed when everyone nearby can hear their conversations. This is especially important for salesmen or customer service representatives who spend a majority of their day on the phone.

Laura Munoz, saleswomen at Groupon, told Monster, “I loved feeling part of that community but as an inside sales rep I hated having people listen to all of my conversations. It was to an extent nice to pick up sales tips from listening to others, but it really made me act differently—either carefree or totally nervous. And of course, there was the occasional private conversation that you wish you didn’t hear.”

Nevertheless, open offices do create a sense of community that translates into job satisfaction. So how do you foster that community without damaging productivity? For small companies, the solution is to find out what your employees want and provide that layout.

Larger companies see success by offering a concept called “hoteling.” The idea is to provide different types of work environments to staff and let them work wherever they please. This means having an open workspace for collaboration and impromptu meetings, as well as quiet, reserved space for concentration. Technology being what it is means people can easily relocate workspace depending on their needs.

Sprinkle in some amenities

office-amenities

Happy employees are productive employees. (There’s really no need to back that up with science, but here it is anyway.) If you smooth out their frustrations, ease their fears, and solve their problems, you’ll create a workforce that gets more done and stays with your company for the long haul.

Some of the biggest companies have made tremendous investments into employee incentives, like personal concierge services, free catered food at all hours, free childcare, on-site gyms, and free laundry service. But those are likely out of your budget.

Still, you can easily improve your employee’s happiness and job satisfaction without giving them raises. Figure out what would make their lives easier that can be solved within your budget.

Does your team of five drink coffee throughout the day? Free coffee for a small team would only cost a few hundred dollars per year, but it would make your team grateful and productive. No late arrivals because the coffee line was long. No mid-day jaunts to the convenience store.

Does your staff like to educate themselves continually? You could reimburse a portion of their tuition or send them to industry conferences. Do they take fitness seriously? Pay for nearby gym memberships (you could probably get a group rate!).

Most importantly, a little perk for your employees makes your company known. You can be the business that lets employees bring their dogs to work, or the office with bagels every morning. Word will spread that will help you attract larger pools of job applicants.

Download our guide: Myths You Need to Stop Believing About Millennial Employees

A final word

I’ve done a lot of generalizing in this article about a large group of people, but at the end of the day, you should create an office environment (and a business, for that matter) that makes your company the most successful.

Maybe your millennials need beer kegs, a ping pong table, and Spotify subscriptions. Maybe they want traditional cubicles and taupe-colored walls. The only way to find out what makes them productive is to ask. Use that data to create a work environment that maximizes your chance for success.

Ready to find a new office? Find your next office environment today.

How To Turn Useless Furniture Into Hot Office Commodity

Furniture. It’s a big-time necessity for living in the modern world. It’s hard to imagine life without it.

However, how often do we move, redecorate and end up discarding it? All the dang time. Sidewalks are strewn with unwanted mattresses, dressers and desks, and to us, we don’t think twice – it’s just a natural part of our urban landscape. Yet, there are visionary recyclists out there who want to revolutionize the way we utilize and treat unused furniture. They’ve developed repurposing practices that’ll keep that ol’ dresser, crib, armoire, or chest off the streets and into that hip, fresh new office or that old executive suite that needs a face-lift. We’ve scoured blogs, magazines and Pinterest boards to find you the best ideas for inexpensive, yet sophisticated office design.

Paige, an antique furniture aficionado at Lucky Me Studios, repurposed this 1940s dresser that originally belonged to a student at Penn State University into a stellar mini-workstation. One of the previous owners had removed the upper-middle drawer and drilled a hole in the back to thread a cord. Voilà! Compact desk perfection!

Chests usually only make sense in sprawling living rooms, dens and at the foot of a bed. They’re gigantic, heavy and difficult to maneuver. Guess what else fits that description… filing cabinets! Except finely crafted wooden and antique chests are not things you want to dispose of. Trade in your clunky green filing cabinets for an old fashioned chest! Loraine at Breakfast 4 Dinner has the right idea. She has sanded and painted over an old chest, emptied and cleaned it out, and turned it into a filing system!

Are you a clutter bug? Do you accumulate mail like Justin Beiber collects Instagram likes? Martha Stewart has figured out how to repurpose an unused coat-hook plaque into a classic mail sorter. Stewart recommends the following steps:

1) Paint or stain a precut plaque, available at crafts stores.

2) Paint hooks to desired color.

3) Secure the hooks side-by-side with 1/2-inch wood screws. Repeat to form additional rows to separate your mail.

Moved to the city and wondering what to do with your family’s old wooden shutters? No fear, Martha’s done it again! Three-panel shutters are easy to hang and perfect for storing and bulletining important papers. Best of all, it’ll add some home-grown charm to your office and some excellent conversation!

July Horoscopes for the Office Worker

What does your office horiscope say about you?

Aries: It’s prime sales season and you’re overwhelmed and stressed. Breath, stretch and close your eyes and picture a rushing waterfall in your office. Let it drown out the noise of meetings, typing and chatter.

Taurus: The heat is exhausting, and its up to you, Taurus to decide if you want to give up or sweat it out. When things in the office get too hot to handle, take a walk or go out to lunch and then get back to the grind.

Gemini: You’re feeling stuck and cramp in your current work environment. This month is about change, Gemini. GiveTurnkey Office Space a call and help them find your business an office with ample space and spectacular views.

Cancer: Sitting and slouching haven’t been your friends lately, Cancer. It’s time for that transformation you’ve been dreaming about. You might want to invest in that sleek new ergonomic chair or that hip, new treadmill desk. A healthy work practice is a happy one.

Leo: There’s been a lot of restructuring going on at the office lately. Teams are being shuffled around and there’s been a surge of new assignments. Work relationships are important, Sagittarius. Take some time to get to know your colleagues; schedule a happy hour or a dinner, you’ll be grateful.

Virgo: Concentration is your ultimate motivator this month, Aries. Stop clenching your teeth and tell your cubicle mate who plays CandyCrush with the volume turned all the way up that your ability to focus is in jeopardy.

Libra: You just got promoted or heard good news about your position. Take this opportunity to celebrate yourself and career. Buy your cubicle, suite or desk a new plant or treat yourself to new business attire. Onwards and upwards, Libra.

Scorpio: Executive suites, hybrid work spaces, co-working spaces, working from home, you’re bogged down with office space options for your growing business. This month is about asking for guidance, Leo. Give TurnKey Office Space a call and have them show you the way.

Sagittarius: Something’s not right or something’s missing, Scorpio. This isn’t the career path you envisioned for yourself or you’ve had a change of heart. July is the month for exploring new options. Change can be scary, but finding happiness in your work life is what’s most important.

Capricorn: Challenges are going to be abundant in the workplace this month, Capricorn, and perseverance is your one and only weapon. Stay strong and be confident. What you have to bring to the table is integral to your business’ mission.

Aquarius: You’re feeling bored and disinterested in your job lately. Maybe business has been slow or you’re just not being challenged. July is your time to brainstorm. What ideas or projects could you instigate at your company to make your career more valuable to you, Aquarius?

Pisces: Sometimes it’s hard to see the big picture, Pisces. You’re so dedicated but sometimes you need to step back and take a look at your true career aspirations. July is your month to reflect and figure out what kind of worker you really are.

The Evolution of the Cubicle

The first office was a dark, small wooden room – the walls glowed from the light of oil lamps and a pot-bellied stove kept the workers (or clerks, as they were known as) warm.

Or that’s what we can assume it was like back in the mid 1800s when the concept of the office workspace first started to develop.

The offices of the early 1900s felt like enormous classrooms. Rows upon rows of desks, each with one or two people working, typewriters clacking away below clouds of cigarette smoke, while executives and managers worked in private rooms along the floor’s perimeter. It wasn’t until the 1960s that architects began to seriously conceptualize office structure. A group of German designers pioneered the original open office floor plan called ‘Office Landscape’ or ‘Bürolandschaft’. Its objective was to eliminate hierarchy, all levels were haphazardly arranged in clusters surrounded by transparent partitions and plants. People despised this design, all of the typing and chatter made concentrating difficult and after a couple of years, the concept was discarded.

In 1964, furniture designer Robert Propst came up with the ‘Action Office’, a floor plan that gave workers the illusion of privacy and promoted autonomy. Each desk was long and rounded and featured a mobile, fabric-covered partition on either side, which blocked any external loud noise and prevented distraction, yet its semi-openness encouraged open communication between colleagues. The Action
Office debuted at the Federal Reserve in New York and soon after many businesses purchased the design.

Yet, what Propst never anticipated was his product’s eventual transformation into the cubicle. Managers discovered that by adding an additional partition, they could squeeze twice as many workers into the office space. By 2005, 40 million Americans were working in 42 different versions of Propst’s design except they were all called “the cubicle”.

Over the last couple of decades, the cubicle has gone through some serious transformations. In this current start-up climate, most tech businesses have re-replaced the cubicle with the open floor plan. But remnants of the cubicle remain, many offices feature conference booths which have a cube shape and two tall, fabric-covered partitions. These booths are scattered around the office and are available for meetings or as optional private spaces.

On the hunt for the perfect cubicle, open floor plan or turn of the century merchant office? Check out Turnkey Office Spacelistings now!

The Architecture of Productivity

A building’s environmental design is intrinsic to the livelihood of a business.

Whether it’s an open-floor plan, cubicles, an executive or private suite, the most critical facet of an office’s design is its ability to evoke creativity, and a truly successful working space encourages and inspires collaborative brainstorming.

MIT’s Building 20 was probably one of the most famous interactive offices. Built in 1943 during World War II to house a radiation lab, the long, factory-esque wooden building eventually became known as “the magical incubator”. Building 20 was the former of home to the university’s nuclear science and acoustics labs, the linguistic and philosophy departments, the integrated studies program, the ROTC and dozens upon dozens of other programs. Its infrastructure violated fire code and was intended to be demolished after the war, yet instead became known as one academia’s most celebrated facilities.

There was nothing aesthetically attractive about Building 20. It had a leaky roof and there was no HVAC system or heat. The hallways were narrow and dark. Yet, it’s horizontal design nurtured creative conversations amongst its workers. Conventional office architecture features a vertical layout whereas Building 20’s was horizontal. Typically, a chance encounter with a colleague in an elevator lasts as brief as the elevator ride. However, Building 20’s long corridors were ideal environments for extensive, impromptu scientific discussions.

Linguist Noam Chomsky, who worked in Building 20 for decades, called it “a fantastic environment. It looked like it was going to fall apart. But it was extremely interactive. There was a mixture of people who later became separate departments interacting informally all the time. You would walk down the corridor and meet people and have a discussion.”

Building 20 is a testament to the power of basic human communication over social technology. The offices fostered a long list of scientific discoveries, from the physics of microwaves, the first video games, hi-fi technology, and high-speed photography.

In 1998 Building 20 was demolished and Prtizker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry began designs for The Stata Center. What stands today could not be more different than Building 20. The Stata Center is a cartoonish structure, a goofy, futuristic design with awkwardly protruding walls and mish-mashing colors. However, according to architecture critic, Robert Campbell, “the building is alive. You can feel part of a community that is working hard… There’s connectivity. There are even windows in the fire stairs.

Is your office building lacking inspiration? Check our Turnkey’s listings for innovative work environments.

4 Simple Ways to Improve Your Workspace

The first thing you’ll notice if you take a tour of Google’s New York City headquarters in Chelsea is color.

The iconic primary colors that come from Google’s logo occupy most of the walls and furniture. The second thing you might notice are the toys: razor scooters, old video games, and ping pong just to name a few.

Google can hardly be condemned for it’s childlike approach to office design. A study at the University of Florida shows that fun at work increases worker productivity. Although, perhaps the fact that Google rests at number 68 in Forbes’s list of the largest companies in the world should alone justify its eccentricities.
Still, not all office spaces in NYC (or the world for that matter) have adopted Google’s fun-loving work sensibilities. If you happen to find yourself in a cold, flat, mute-colored cubicle; there are simple ways to liven up your workspace:

1. Add life – Something as simple as a plant can definitely improve morale. They filter the air, and they provide you with a low-maintenance life to care for. If your office allows it, try some exotic plants. Venus flytraps are really zany and might give your office an extra bit of personality. Another cool option is a terrarium – they’re like mini eco systems. Typically a terrarium is some form of plant life, water, and brine shrimp. Light sunlight is all that’s needed to keep these brilliant little planets going.

2. Add space – If you’ve ever played Tetris, you’ll understand how just moving a few things around can give you much needed space. See if it’s possible to do some office furniture rearranging in order to provide more open space for your coworkers. Offices tend to get stuck in this idea that space is only for moving through, but it’s more complicated than that. A wide-open communal space can improve employee communication and liven up the office. If you can’t rearrange on a larger scale, start with your personal workspace. A clean and organized desk will definitely help your morale and productivity.

3. Add fun – games are excellent ways to learn and acquire new skills. We think a healthy amount of game play is essential to building better inter-office relationships and skills. Some companies have even signed their employees up for World of Warcraft, so they can work virtually and solve problems as a team. If you can’t get your team onboard for an occasional game, try keeping brainteasers by your desk for short sanity breaks.

4. Add art – colors and brand design go a long way. There’s a sense of company pride that can go hand in hand with extending the look of your brand into the office place. In addition, a certain sense of style can boost morale for the simple fact that it’s pretty to look at. If you’re an employer, think about painting a wall or purchasing large art pieces that embody the image of your company. If you’re an employee, decorate your workspace appropriately. Making your space feel more like something you own can help boost your enthusiasm for your job.

Got any other suggestions for bettering your workspace? Tell us about them. You can voice your opinion on Facebook or Twitter @TKOfficeSpace.