Office Design

Millennials: Are They Driving the Office Layout Game in the Workplace?

David Spence
June 2nd, 2016
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The millennial worker is often characterized by their desire for flexibility, work-life balance and the integration of technology in every aspect of life. They also represent the largest generational labor force in the U.S., with over 53 million workers contributing to the economy. Considering this, it’s no wonder that their 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.

Combined with recent changes in economic structure and advances in technology, the millennial way of life (and thinking) has informed many of the trends you see in today’s modern offices.

Modern day flexibility

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One of the things that millennials value most in a job is flexibility. They want to be able to make their own hours, customize their workflow or even work from home when possible. In part because of this, flextime, remote work and the creation of flexible workspaces are all increasing in popularity.

Flexibility comes with its own challenges, but does grant workers the ability to be more mobile and work in ways that specifically suit their needs.

Facility managers can create flexible spaces by incorporating easy to move, multi-use furniture and designing a space to allow for the quick shuffling of equipment. It’s also important for facility managers to anticipate potential challenges like properly scheduling spaces, guaranteeing that everyone has a desk to use and ensuring good communication channels exist for those who work from home or remotely.

Value-driven business models

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Millennials want to feel deeply invested in their work, more so than their generational counterparts. Making employees feel as if their work is meaningful and contributes to a cause can help bolster the resolve of a team and create a more stress-resilient workforce.

Facility managers can shape environments around these values by providing inspirational spaces that include values-based imagery and tools like whiteboards that allow employees to get creative and work on ideas together.

In a recent Workplace Unplugged Interview with Matthew Stegmeierhe talks about the fact that the workplace is constantly changing, and addresses how to plan for alternative workplace strategies to adapt. Take a look.  

Hosting events is also a great way to help workers stay in touch with the local community and the customers they work hard for. This will not only bring together your employees with feelings of accomplishment, it will also drive deeper connections amongst your team and customers. 

Collaborative environments

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Spaces that break down barriers and spark collaboration between people are reflections of a generation that prefers less hierarchy, more teamwork and a culture that allows coworkers to be friends.

The investment company GlaxoSmithKline, for example, employs “neighborhoods” — zones within their open office meant for specific work teams — in which even the firm’s top leaders and managers work. By letting everyone mingle, the hope is that workers will share ideas and come up with plans never previously imagined.

Facility managers can jump on board this trend by providing open spaces that encourage employees to bump into each other or talk to company leaders, regardless of what rank they hold. Arrange your office to include natural thoroughfares of interaction and try not to isolate any one department.

While millennials have played a part in how modern offices function, it may be more accurate to say that office design has changed alongside the new generation. Both have been heavily influenced by the emergence of a more fluid digital knowledge economy and new technologies that enable alternative working styles.

This tech-savvy generation of workers is bound to influence more innovation and change within the space of office culture and design.

As an FM, you need to pay attention to this generation, as you never know what you might learn. 


Photos: Anchiy /, Erol Ahmed, ArtsyBee, Startup Stock Photos