The emergence of the Millennial workforce has forced companies to reevaluate their office environments and to view office space not as an amortized asset but as a strategic tool to attract and retain talent and to drive organizational growth and effectiveness.
“Millennials are absolutely redefining the way employers view and plan their office spaces today,” said Steven Lang, President and CEO of DS&D, a leading interior solutions company and` provider of products and services for interior environments. “They are challenging companies to think differently about space and are having a significant impact on office layout, design and amenities.”
Lang and his company work closely with architects and designers to help companies of all sizes create spaces that attract younger talent and improve efficiency, performance and the bottom line. Lang offers the following advice for companies large and small when planning an effective office environment:
- Optimize density: A recent report from CBRE Group Inc. shows that the average office space is occupied only 48% of the time due to the increasing mobility of today’s workforce. Transform any under-used spaces into collaborative work environments or shared workplaces to better utilize your existing space and create a more engaging environment that attracts a younger employee base.
- Enhance your amenities: Make work feel more like home by incorporating amenities that encourage interaction. Creating a kitchen or work café environment that is flexible and allows employees to work in groups or autonomously as well as socialize over a cup of coffee can reenergize your workforce. Adding access to technology and lounge seating provides employees, especially Millennials, the ability and freedom to work how and where they want.
- Respect the need for privacy: Creating open work areas can increase productivity and collaboration. Regardless of age or generation, however, most employees need a quiet place from time to time. Creating huddle rooms where employees can reserve time for quiet work or to make a personal phone call adds to the flexibility of the overall work environment and helps to meet the diverse needs of employees.
- Develop a change management and internal communications program: Any changes to the office environment will represent an upheaval of sorts to employees. As such, keeping employees informed and making them feel invested in the process is critically important.
A structured approach allows the organization to communicate any changes being made to the workplace to employees throughout the process and educate them on the proper ways to best utilize the newly configured space. Open floor plans and work cafés offer different advantages than those of closed offices but these advantages need to be communicated properly. Additionally, these types of environments require a different etiquette and behavior guidelines than closed spaces which can alter a company’s culture. It is up to the employers to ensure that the culture change is for the better and not for the worse.