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Reinventing the Office Space, Millennial-Style

No matter what kind of business you run, chances are you need office space. But there’s a real and evolving challenge we all face: how should you design it for millennials? How would it function in practical terms?

Today’s youthful employees have little interest in the traditional model of outer offices and interior cubes, with dark, cavernous rows and flickering, fluorescent bulbs. This generation only knows a digital world, brought up on information sharing, creativity and collaboration. They are quicker to use phone apps and tablets, influencing the mobility factor and translating to the modern office.

Form follows function

Closed-in office spaces just don’t fit the millennial mindset. They want open layouts. Flexible work stations. High ceilings. Floor-to-ceiling glass. Standing tables and other amenities. Maybe even a ping pong or pool table. In short, a bright, airy space that engenders excitement and community, where they can do great work, move around, have fun and see the sun.

However, there’s also a misconception about today’s work space. No matter what kind of “cool” factor you have in mind, the company’s individual culture and business model ultimately dictates the specific design and function of the space. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all design.

All across America, we’re seeing open plans with a wide range of design elements. For many firms it’s open space, with open cubes and only a handful of private offices. Others, such as media, sales and computer programming divisions, may employ the benching model — side by side work spaces. Meanwhile, law firms, accounting and other financial service providers are still figuring out the right mix, with private offices still in demand albeit with smaller configurations than in the past. Conferences rooms are still important, although typically with an HD monitor, computer ports and a phone pod. Frosted glass throughout the office is becoming more popular as a means to provide a sound barrier and privacy while still retaining the “open” feel.

Rethinking the work day

Another element we see is “huddle rooms” — 10’ x 10’ or 8’ X 8’ rooms that are private and offer writable walls for brainstorming. Lounges or couch areas are also common. Since millennials message through any number of apps, they can sit amongst others and yet easily correspond with family and friends in a “soft” environment, minimizing the need for a private space.

As traditional office hours are consistently morphing, many people now work later or earlier shifts and/or work from home or off-site to better facilitate the work/life balance. With people coming and going throughout the day, there’s an ability in some cases to “build” the office for approx one-third fewer people than you actually employ.

The modern work space is evolving. Which design is right for you? That depends on your business culture, but chances are you’ll be incorporating any number of these elements and maybe even a few we haven’t thought of yet.

Re-posted with permission from NAI Global.

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