October 3, 2018

Generation-Proofing The Office

Millennials are America’s largest age group in the workforce as of 2015. Their collaborative spirit and optimism are changing how we think about the workplace. What does that mean for employers considering a generation-proofing office renovation?


As companies strive to support workforce diversity and manage to change demographics, it can be tempting to be enticed by rapidly shifting trends that promise to attract the freshest and brightest talent. Countless blogs and industry magazines try to convince readers that millennials are disrupting older generations with their unconventional work and lifestyle choices. Yet differences among Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomer employees have been dramatically exaggerated regarding generation-proofing the workplace. Across the board, all people want to spend their days working someplace comfortable, flexible, and capable of adapting to new technologies.
Researchers have contemplated the severity of the differences between generations regarding work. A recent study by the IBM Institute for Business Value indicated that all three generations have similar career aspirations, attitudes, and needs. This idea was found in an earlier study published in the Journal of Architectural and Planning Research that indicated age diversity in the American workforce does not appear to influence the overall types of design attributes and privacy features perceived to impact work between Gen X and Baby Boomers. Decision makers must now consider, among other things, how the physical elements of their office space can become an asset in attracting and retaining top talent across generational lines. Without getting caught up in fleeting trends, employers can use design to bring employees together instead of worrying about the differences that divide them.

Generational stereotypes have labeled millennials as the main benefactors of a new direction in office design that prioritizes new technologies, flexible workspaces, and breakout areas. While these uses of space might be unfamiliar to older workers, the design components millennials enjoy can be adapted to the routines and preferences of all employees. There is no one-size-fits-all when finding a suitable office space for your company; opening up the conversation is the best way to find a space that works. Architects and designers can help create a space that fulfills your team’s needs, but remember that their expertise is best put to use when combined with a defined company culture that can inspire a design that will work for everyone in the office.
Employees of any generation will reap the benefits of rethinking the physical aspects of a workplace. While renovating an office seems like a significant expense, it can be minor compared to the cost of high turnover, training new employees, and receiving low output from uninspired staff members. An office environment designed to create positive experiences and foster high employee engagement will minimize talent loss and save money in the long run.