You’d be hard-pressed to find someone from the Millennial generation who never pushed his desk around a classroom to work on a group project about the crisis in the Middle East or huddled with classmates at the student center to discuss 20th century philosophers.
Collaboration has been the modus operandi of Generation Y since they sat down for circle time in preschool, so it’s no wonder that the inclination toward teamwork has poured over into their careers. And it’s starting to impact office furniture and design in a big way.
According to CNN, in the next 10 years, Americans born between 1979 and 1997 will make up the largest portion of the workforce. The changing face of the American worker will more than likely result in a renovation of the American office.
Changes you might see include:
More informal meetings spaces: Generation Y has been moving around furniture since they were kids in order to do group work, so workers in this age group prefer casual, ad hoc meeting spaces to formal conference rooms. Furniture makers have responded to the demand for on-call meeting spaces by creating light, easy-to-move and multi-functional seating and workspaces like Knoll’s Toboggan chair or comfortable, semi-private areas like booths where a few people can gather for a quick chat. Some offices incorporate whole white board walls or white boards on wheels for people to quickly write down thoughts and ideas on the spot.
Fewer walls: Millennials aren’t fond of top-down leadership style, according to the GlobeAnd Mail.com, and with that all the pomp and circumstance that comes with the cushy corner office. Open offices that encourage engagement regardless of seniority level will replace cubicles, walls and closed doors.
Smaller offices: The Millennials are the first generation raised with mobile technology (Dial up internet? What’s that?!), so they’re comfortable doing work from anywhere. In fact, because of the proliferation of smartphones and cloud computing, the line between work life and personal life is much more blurred than in past generations. Their office is literally anywhere they can plug in their laptop. The rise in telecommuting and hot desking has resulted in traditional offices shrinking, which companies see as a huge cost savings.
Technology integration: Generation Y has been plugged in for most of their childhood, some even since birth, so they expect easy access and use of technology. As a result, more furniture and office equipment has charging stations and access to power so that workers can stay connected without having to crawl around the floor in search of an outlet.
Green initiatives: “It goes beyond the way they opened up their workspace. It’s also about sustainability and creating a healthy and happy workplace,” Debra Barnes, vice president of interior architecture and design at HGA Architects, told Finance-Commerce.com. Recent studies have found that younger workers prefer to work for companies that make a commitment to green practices.
Cozier workspaces: Millennials are more comfortable blending their work and personal lives, so they don’t want to work at a place that has a colder, corporate feel. Increasingly, designers are making offices that have elements of home. “The corporate feel is getting a lot warmer; almost residential. It’s about bringing your home life into work a little and vice versa,” Hans Siefker, president and principal at Minneapolis-based Greiner Construction Inc., told Finance-Commerce.com.
If you’re looking to update your office to accommodate a generation of wired, teamwork-loving Millennials, make sure your first stop is Arnolds Office Furniture.