The millennials influence on the modern office

June 2017

As more baby boomers retire, millennials, those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, will soon become the largest generation in the workplace and they’re coming in hot with new ideas and high expectations of an office environment.

Breakout area

We all know the very idea of work is undergoing some fundamental changes right now and this has been further driven by this generation’s experience of higher education and an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies. Considering this, it's no wonder that millennial’s priorities are influencing the modern workplace. This not only applies to daily operations and company culture, but also how an office layout is designed in the first place.

Millennials want to feel deeply invested in their work, more so than their generational counterparts. This tech-savvy generation of workers is bound to influence more innovation and change in the working environment and here are five workplace trends inspired by millennials:

Open plan offices

Many of the millennial-inspired trends in office space have their roots in the open office. Long gone are the days of separate offices for each department as employers are now enjoying the benefits of adopting a culture where people can work closely and collaborate with others. However recent studies have also concluded that workers in an open plan office wish they had more privacy, are less focused and experience higher levels of stress.

Because of this, most businesses with open offices are now setting aside private areas where employees can have more quiet time. An office needs a variety of spaces for people to perform a multitude of tasks, even if they aren’t permanently assigned rooms. And each area needs to be designed to promote its specified use, from acoustics to the layout of the furniture.

Furniture for Social Spaces

Designers and manufacturers are developing greater flexibility and adaptability in their office furniture, with a push towards ergonomically sensible and aesthetically attractive office design with furniture suitable for a variety of spaces.

Modular bench desks are becoming increasing popular, allowing businesses to create spaces that are flexible and can be reconfigured depending on their use at any given time. Furniture for breakout areas incorporating power units, such as Dams Social Spaces range, create relaxed working environments where people can go for some time away from their desk, meet and collaborate or bring their laptop with them to work away from the distractions of phones and colleagues.

The popularity of sit-stand desks, such as Dams Elev8 range, has grown massively in recent years, yet only a small percentage of employees have access to height adjustable desks. There are many studies showing the health effects long periods of sitting can have, and how standing as well as sitting during the working day can have a positive impact on health and wellbeing, in addition to relieving stress and increasing productivity.

Office furniture design that embraces technology and enables people to collaborate on projects in real-time will continue to become more popular, as this all aids productivity and helps to create a seamless, integrated working environment.

Up to date technology

Technology is here to stay. Millennials have grown up using the latest technology and they don’t know a life without it. In order to attract millennials to any office, companies need to make sure they have the most up to date technology. As technology has shrunk and grown more mobile, it’s also shrunk our workplaces. The modern office is less likely to have large computer towers and sprawling phone systems and more likely to have furniture and equipment with integrated power that allows quick set-up and connectivity.

Embracing new technology and innovation shows millennials that the company is constantly growing and improving and will create a more efficient and productive workplace. Technology trends, such as the growth of wearables and the development of tablets as useful work tools, will continue to influence office layouts. Wireless charging will also become even more popular in as more devices are released that support the feature. Businesses that create an office with cutting-edge technology will not only interest millennials but can be beneficial to all employees.

Flexibility

One thing that the millennial generation thrives on in an office is flexibility. They want to be able to make their own hours with flexi-time or even work remotely wherever possible, which has led some people to suggest that the modern workplace has expanded beyond the office. Flexibility comes with its own challenges, but it does offer employees the ability to be more mobile and work in ways that specifically suit their needs.

Continuous changes in technology and these expected shifts in working culture means that many companies are now creating workspaces with flexibility built in. With wireless technology and video conferencing facilities, offices are now smarter and more user friendly than ever before which is enticing people back to the office as bosses realise that good communication, collaboration and making the workplace a more enjoyable place to be have a greater impact on productivity.

Work-life balance

Modern workplaces should provide a sense of work-life balance for their employees. Millennials tend to be hard workers who spend a lot of time at work, and once they have finished for the evening, they are still accessible by text, calls and email. Forward thinking businesses have been trying to find a work-life balance to ensure people can have fun at work and millennials are changing the office space to make it happen.

Millennials want creative spaces, an office to feel like a home away from home, with amenities such as a canteen area, vending machines, a games room and stimulating colour schemes around the office for a more enjoyable workplace. Some companies even have gym facilities for employees to use at their leisure. These trends may seem out of the ordinary from past generations but these are examples of what will help to eliminate millennial turnover.

So why is this all so important?

Simply put, the office has become a selling point for businesses. More companies are placing workplace design and office furniture high on their list of priorities and using this as one way to attract and retain the best people. Taking care of employees’ wants and needs means a healthier, happier workplace and, in turn, increased productivity which can only be positive for businesses.

Open plan offices are in many ways the trademark of the millennial impact on the office environment, but it doesn’t start and end there. Generally millennials are looking for flexibility, collaboration, work-life balance and modern technology where they choose to work, with facilities and surroundings that will benefit employees of all ages, not just millennials.



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