Future proof a millennial space

Did you know that by 2020, millennials (people born between 1980 and 2000) will form 50% of the global workforce?

September 14, 2016

That means in just four years, your office space will probably accommodate a whole lot of workers who have a completely different perspective on where and how they operate in an office. How you respond to this statistic in terms of work space design will have a meaningful impact on the way you attract and retain talent.

As a member of this ‘always-on’ generation, I can vouch for the fact that a hierarchical office layout where the number of square metres reflects your seniority is no longer relevant. Millennials have an ‘always-on’ mentality – give us a smart device and the flexibility to get on with it and we’ll surge ahead. The mindset of ‘if you’re sitting at a desk you’re working vs if you’re having a cup of coffee, you’re not’ are barriers that must be broken. It’s time to ditch the cubicles. Open spaces feed collaboration, innovation and creativity.

The workplace of the future is an activity-based, tech-enabled environment. People no longer need their own allocated desks. Everyone from the manager to support staff is more mobile, moving around relevant zones as appropriate. There are open zones for on-the-spot collaboration and exchange, quieter spaces for concentration and focus and other areas for rest and relaxation. The modern office provides lockers for personal items and shared stationery areas.

The expectation is an environment that inspires. Think natural light, outdoor spaces and areas that support a healthy work/life balance, like access to exercise and places to take short breaks. A workplace that caters for flexibility will reduce the amount of wasted space and have greater cost efficiencies.

Obviously the extent to which you embrace a modern, open space is industry dependant. Legal firms, with their degree of confidentiality, may require more private zones over creative companies that can push boundaries with a variety of innovative work stations.

Sensor technology

Using smart sensors to track everything from temperature, lighting levels and movement in the office, this technology promotes maximum efficiencies and engagement. By opening an app on your mobile device, you can select an available work space, book a meeting room or adjust the temperature at your desk. It also prompts informed decision-making to use space effectively, like selecting a meeting pod for a two-person meeting over an 18-seater boardroom. Sensor technology creates a connected office space and we will soon be launching the concept in our own offices.

Height-adjustable desks

Standing while working is a new office trend. Also called sit-or-stand desks, these desks promote movement and have a host of physical benefits because they can be adjusted to suit a person’s build and posture. It fits with the progression to more flexibility in the workspace, giving people options to work in a way that suits them. The majority of global office furniture manufacturers now offer height-adjustability as standard. Taking the concept one step further, there are also treadmill desks to combat the perils of sitting all day. These ‘walkstations’ are excellent for a boost of energy and a change of scenery.

BYOD – bring your own device

Us millennials like to work on the device of our choice. BYOD means that we can use our own smartphones, tablets or laptops supported by devices that are business-owned. It makes a company’s workflow mobile and boosts efficiencies, allowing employees to work from a variety of locations, like in the back of an Uber on the way to a meeting. The ability to work through personal devices and the Cloud can greatly reduce operating expenses. Of course a strict BYOD policy is required to ensure the system works effectively and securely.

Millennials thrive on technology, innovation and change. Non-traditional workplaces must be embraced to attract and retain this talent. They have the potential to save your company money, boost productivity and enhance job satisfaction.