Does workplace design matter to millennials?

Research shows that a much greater role is being played by office aesthetics in the recruitment of young people.

Richard carr millenial office designThe millennial generation (usually defined as those born between the early 1980s and the early 1990s) are changing the way the world works in many ways. Their expectations of technologically advanced solutions to everyday issues, such as banking, buying property and shopping, has led to the rise of Fintech (financial technology) in banking, Proptech (property technology) in the property sector and Regtech (regulatory technology) in the compliance and regulatory sector.

In addition, there has been a rapid rise establishing the use of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. While these are all widely considered disruptive and obvious game changers in the world of work, the millennials are influencing rather more down to earth aspects of the corporate sector.

Changing expectations

A study by global market research firm IPSOS has recently shown that the expectations of young employees have changed in terms of their working environment. The research shows that the design of the workspace and aesthetics of the office are extremely important when it comes to recruiting the best young talent.

The research surveyed a wide range of adults over the age of 18, including those who work in an office. It particularly aimed at finding out what has the biggest influence on employees when they first come across a company.

Generational shift

There has been a distinct shift generationally, with younger employees caring much more about the feel and look of their workplace in comparison with older generations:

  • Office design: 76% of millennials (defined as aged between 18 and 34) reporting feeling somewhat or very strongly that office design and aesthetics does influence their thoughts about a company. Only 39% of employees aged over 55 said that they cared about their office decoration.
  • Design upgrades: 70% of office workers in the survey reported a wish for a design upgrade of their surroundings.
  • Location of office: Just 41% of employees over 55 reported caring where an office is located, while 70% of millennials said that they do.

First impressions do matter
While it could be argued that most people are influenced by first impressions when they come for a job interview, millennials are more strongly impacted. They indicate in the survey that they could walk away from a job offer based on the surroundings that they would be expected to work in.

Make your workspace inviting

There are various steps businesses can take to ensure their office space is more comfortable, inviting and inspirational for potential and current employees:

  • Customise spaces: different departments and teams should have their spaces adapted around the way they work. For example, employees in HR may need personal offices to manage information, while creative departments such as PR & Marketing could work better clustered together in areas that make it simple to communicate and collaborate. This can involve simple partitions and an imaginative use of office furniture, or an office redesign to install more private and team work spaces.
  • Be flexible with open plan: since the surge in popularity of open plan offices, there have been many benefits for communication and collaboration, but there is a negative side effect. A large open plan area can be extremely noisy and distracting for people who need to concentrate, or for groups that need to have meetings. Utilising portable wall panels to close in smaller spaces can help to alleviate distractions and act as a barrier to noise.
  • Get green fingered: a study in the Netherlands found that a 15% increase in productivity was measured when employees were surrounded by green plant life. The introduction of plants to an office has been found to slash absenteeism in half and help to reduce minor illness. This is a simple, cost effective way to boost your office design, improve the health and motivation of employees and create a pleasant and stylish atmosphere.
  • Create an active space: research has shown that sitting for long periods can increase the risk of health problems such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Employers can use all sorts of options to make the work environment more active. Standing desks and adjustable work tables are a good option so that employees can change between sitting and standing throughout their working day.