“For me, architecture and design are the ultimate expressions of our humanity. They represent how we see the world and how we navigate the world.”
This quote by Piero Lissoni has never been more apt given our modern world’s changing office spaces. Gone are the days of fax machines and personal cubicles. Instead, an increasing need for collaboration and innovation is driving more open and flexible workspaces with shared worktables, lots of sunlight, informal beanbags and even cafes.
Additionally, more modern workspaces help employers appeal to the rising number of millennials and Gen Zers in the workforce. Research shows these populations currently make up 38% of the workforce — a number projected to rise to 58% by 2030.
So what do millennials and Gen Zers want in the workplace? Here are 12 office design trends to try out in your next remodel that are sure to attract these generations.
1. Open Floor Plans
Our first renovating tip is to opt for open floor plans. Cubicles and corner offices foster isolation and enforce rigid hierarchical leadership models. Open floor plans with areas for different teams, on the other hand, encourage collaboration and innovation.
Open floor plans shift the focus from “my space” to “our space” and can make employees feel like they are part of something bigger. This is especially important for millennials and Gen Zers who grew up in the social media age, where connection and social interaction are top priorities. Additionally, bringing managers into the open makes them more approachable and reinforces the philosophy that good ideas can come from anywhere.
2. Flexible Workspaces
Keep the design flexible. Employees today are armed with the technology to keep them mobile. Instead of being tethered to a single desk, millennial and Gen Z workers want to get up and move around — work at a cafe table, sit on a sofa or even take their laptops home to work remotely. Sometimes a change of scenery helps employees stay sharp and think more creatively, so offer a variety of work areas including in-office, remote or hybrid options.
3. Casual Collaboration Spaces
It’s important to create a space that’s not solely dedicated to productivity. Creating collaboration spaces in offices for socializing, celebrating or connecting can boost team unity and even increase creativity. Some employees are more comfortable brainstorming and throwing out ideas in a casual environment than in a boardroom. Opt for bench seats in front of a huge window, comfy couches arranged in a circle or place some beanbag chairs on a plush rug.
4. Centrally Located
Millennials and Gen Zers are more aware of their carbon footprints than other generations and don’t want to spend hours commuting back and forth to work. Instead, they value having an office space that is centrally located in their city’s hub. They generally embrace a “live, work, play” philosophy and prefer workplaces that are within walking or bicycling distance of restaurants, shops and apartments — especially in cities where parking and traffic are difficult to navigate. If you’re thinking of moving your office, consider a renovated historic building located in the center of town, an urban warehouse or loft.
5. Emphasis On Wellness
Millennials and Gen Zers don’t want to sacrifice their health and wellness for work. They place a high value on things like ergonomic furniture, standing desks, adjustable height monitors and other tools to prevent posture problems and eye strain. Nutrition and stress management are also priorities. Offer a game room or lounge for breaks, an exercise area and a full kitchen for preparing healthy snacks. These additions can help promote work-life balance.
6. Accent Walls
Modern offices are moving away from the sterile, empty look created by all-white walls. Instead, they lean on color psychology to add pops of brightness and personality to their workspace. Different colors can encourage different moods. Blues are a popular choice for creating calm and sparking imagination. Oranges can also work well to encourage vitality or energy.
7. Natural Lighting
Fluorescent tube lighting has no place in a modern office. Millennial and Gen Z workers don’t want to feel completely cut off from the outside world. Bringing down cubicle walls can help natural light come in. If you must section off spaces, use low walls to help maintain as much openness as possible. Place plants and maybe a fountain in a central location to help bring the outdoors in.
8. Embraces Nature
Plants and greenery make great additions to a modern workspace. Not only do they nod to environmental conscientiousness, but they can also create an extremely calm and serene space. Plus, a survey by Cundell found employees working in office spaces containing green elements reported a 16% higher level of well-being.
9. Focus on Sustainability
Along with including greenery in your office space, make a conscious effort to choose sustainability. This includes opting for more energy-efficient lights, using recycled flooring and other materials and reducing overall carbon emissions. You could even opt to thrift and restore all office furniture to help prevent these items from going to landfills.
10. Modern Technology and Amenities
Ensure your office includes up-to-date technology and connectivity. This can be as simple as providing outlets in multiple locations so workers can move freely around the office space. Another trending option is to provide touchless technology to prevent the spread of germs or viruses — like automated light switches or faucets. One last idea is to invest in collaboration apps such as Slack or Zoom.
11. Office Amenities
No office space is complete without providing amenities that workers will love. Add the finishing touches to your space with perks like coffee machines or a salad bar. While it may cost a little extra, purchasing a coffee machine that can create lattes and other drinks is a great way to go above and beyond the standard drip machine. If you have the budget, investing in an office gym or providing child care can also be attractive benefits to employees.
12. Remote Options
The last of our office design ideas is to provide remote options. Employees nowadays want to be able to do their work wherever they want — in an office, at home or even across the world as a digital nomad. To accommodate an increasingly remote and hybrid workforce, many companies are opting to subscribe to services like WeWork. WeWork provides short-term leases across the United States and around the globe so employees can access an office space if they want it. It’s a great solution to provide employees with the flexibility they desire.
Is It Worth It to Invest In Office Renovation?
As millennials and Gen Zers comprise more and more of the workforce, it’s worth catering to their desires to attract talent, retain employees and reduce turnover costs.
A Gallup Poll found that six out of 10 millennials are open to new job opportunities, and approximately one in four said they switched jobs within the last year. This turnover rate costs the U.S. economy over $30 billion annually, with the cost to replace a single millennial within a workplace around $15,000 to $20,000 each.
Many of today’s jobs didn’t exist a generation ago and the people best suited for them grew up in the new millennium. If you have a computer or software problem, chances are a millennial or Gen Zer has the solution. Because these generations seek forward-thinking companies whose work culture reflects their values, it’s worth it to update your company’s interior to attract them.
Renovating your office with your workflow in mind can also improve efficiency. When departments that depend on each other are in close proximity, they can often solve problems with a quick conversation rather than lengthy chains of emails. Grouping teams together in a thoughtful way can make communication easier, streamline processes and save your business money.
7 Tips for Renovating Your Office
- Do it in phases. Don’t rip everything apart all at once. Choose one part of the office to work on at a time and try to contain disruption to that area.
- Set a clear and realistic schedule. There is often a difference between how long things should take and how long they actually will take. Being overly optimistic when setting a timetable can set your company up for disappointing delays. Plan for contingencies. It’s better to underpromise and overdeliver.
- Do as much as possible outside of office hours. Portable light towers make it possible for work to take place at night. Weekends are the best time to do noisy and dusty renovations.
- Don’t expect employees to endure significant noise and chaos. Move them away from areas that are being worked on or allow them to work from home on construction days.
- Use storage containers. Portable containers are a good way to keep construction equipment and tools close but out of the immediate office area.
- Communicate. Keep your workforce informed about progress and next steps throughout the project
- Respond quickly to employee concerns. Problems will arise, but the mark of a good company is how you handle them. If the office renovation causes problems for your employees — especially affecting their health or ability to perform their jobs — listen and respond quickly.
Where the Workplace Is Headed
Each generation leaves its own mark on the workplace. With millennials and Gen Zers accounting for over one-third of the current workforce and leading some of the most important innovations in business, it’s important to understand how they prefer to work and create environments that will attract them to your company.
The top trend associated with these generations of workers is the normalization of hybrid and remote working. Integrating these work styles into your renovations will help you create a millennial and Gen Z workplace that’s sure to help you attract top talent. Being able to recruit and retain this generation will help your business in the long run.
Ready to bring some of these office design trends to your renovation? Make the process quicker and easier by renting the appropriate construction equipment.