Generation-Proofing The Office
Millennials are America’s largest age group in the workforce as of 2015. Their collaborative spirit and optimism is changing the way we think about the workplace. What does that mean for employers considering office renovation?
As companies strive to support workforce diversity and manage changing demographics, it can be tempting to be enticed by rapidly shifting trends that promise to attract the freshest and brightest talent. Countless blogs and industry magazines try to convince readers that millennials are disrupting older generations with their unconventional work and lifestyle choices. Yet when it comes to the workplace, differences among Millennial, Gen X and Baby Boomer employees have been dramatically exaggerated. Across the board all people want to spend their days working someplace that is comfortable, flexible, and capable of adapting to new technologies.
Researchers have contemplated the severity of the differences between generations when it comes to work. A recent study by the IBM Institute for Business Value indicated that all three generations have similar career aspirations, attitudes and needs. This same idea was found in an earlier study published in the Journal of Architectural and Planning Research that indicated age diversity in the American workforce does not appear to influence the overall types of design attributes and privacy features perceived to impact work between Gen X and Baby Boomers. Decision makers must now consider, among other things, how the physical elements of their office-space can become an asset in attracting and retaining top talent across generational lines. Without getting caught up in fleeting trends employers can use design to bring employees together instead of worrying about the differences that divide them.
Generational stereotypes have labeled millennials as the main benefactors of a new direction in office design that prioritizes new technologies, flexible workspaces, and breakout areas. While these uses of space might be unfamiliar to older workers, the design components millennials enjoy can be adapted into the routines and preferences of all employees. There is no one size fits all when it comes to finding the right office space for your company, the best way to find a space that works is opening up the conversation. Architects and designers can help create a space that fulfills your team’s needs, but keep in mind that their expertise is best put to use when combined with a defined company culture that can inspire design that will work for everyone in the office.
Employees of any generation are going to reap the benefits of rethinking the physical aspects of a workplace. While renovating an office seems like a major expense, it can be minor in comparison to the cost of high-turnover, training new employees and receiving low-output from uninspired staff members. An office environment that is deliberately designed to create positive experiences and foster high engagement among employees will minimize talent loss and save money in the long run.