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Millennials Are Changing Workplace Design

Babies born in the early 90s have now been a part the corporate work force for a little over five years. As a result, we are starting to see a change in workplace environments due to their demands.  Not only in the environment, but also office setup and interior design. These 20 and 30-something employees are not afraid to shake things up in order to find happiness in their job.  The idea of sticking with the same job or company for the entirety of their career is a thing of the past.  On average, people hold 12 different jobs in their lifetime.  Thirty-two percent of people between the ages of 25 and 44 have considered a career change within the past year and twenty-nine percent have actually changed their career field since starting their first job after college. A majority of this is due to lack of happiness and impact in their employment.  So how do you keep this generation happy in their work environment?

Office Space That Looks Like Home

COVID-19 taught us a million and one things: how to stay home, how to cook at home instead of ordering take out, and most importantly, how to work from home.  Efficiently.  It was a dream come true for most.  The idea of being able to roll out of bed and log on in your pajamas was what everyone wanted.  Or so they thought.  What sounded like the perfect way to work, turned out to only last a short period of time.  After missing out on workplace socializing, camaraderie, and just plain leaving the house, the working class had the urge to get back in the office.  At least part time. Millennials want the flexibility of working from home, but also having the option to come into a building.  But that’s not all.  They don’t want their office to feel like an office.  According to Bloomberg, almost 60% of workers age 21 to 30 said that working in a modern, collegiate office environment has become more important to them over the past year.

Companies like Google were at the forefront of the modern office transition. They added customizable workstations, swings and even took it next level with a ball pit.  While most offices do not have a need, or the space for a ball pit, you get the idea.

Height-adjustable desks

Height-adjustable desks, like the Herman Miller: Atlas Office Landscape, are almost seen as a requirement of any office to millennials. What may initially seem unnecessary or overly needy, is actually going to improve the workplace morale and productivity.  As employees learn more and more about the harmful effects of sitting for extended periods of time, millennials are demanding a change.

Multiple furniture systems

Multiple furniture systems add variety to the visual appeal of a workspace, along with more flexibility.  While some jobs, or portions of jobs, are best completed at a desk, some can be done on a lounge seating.  The Herman Miller: Striad Lounge Chair and Ottoman allows employees to kick back while still maintaining an upright position.  The Herman Miller: Wilkes Modular Sofa Group adds even more versatility to your office space with the adjustable and flexible sofa that grows with your company. 

Textiles, colors, and patterns

The days of fitting your office space with faux-wood topped tables and dark blue office chairs are out.  “Commerci-dential” is a new slang term for what offices are aiming for…a combination of commercial and residential.  A truer representation of this would be ‘Scandinavian minimalism’.  The idea is to combine simplicity, practicality, and most importantly comfort.  Colors are becoming less and less bright, and more pastel or deep: rose, blush, mellow yellow, and emerald, to name a few.

Pair does a great job of using these home-y color palettes in nearly every piece of office furniture they offer, including: office partitions, work stations, desk storage and organization, and office tables.  

Work That Matters

Millennials want to make an impact.  It has become one of the core values for the generation and not just in their personal endeavors.  They want a job where they can make a meaningful impact on those around them and many times this includes the environment.  Millennials are the first generation that have really demanded that companies they buy from and work for are more sustainable and responsible for their impact on the environment.

A study by Horizon Media found that 81% of millennials expect companies to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship. Additionally, in the last year, corporations have given $174.8 billion to charities, 65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gift programs, and 93% of the world’s largest 250 companies now publish annual Corporate Sustainability Responsibility (CSR) reports.

Companies like Herman Miller and Humanscale are doing their part in the office furniture industry to make an impact.  Herman Miller started the rePurpose program to help reduce the amount of waste that headed to the landfills after companies replaced their furniture.  Humanscale rethought the way they made furniture by reducing emissions during production and recycling parts of their furniture to create new pieces.

You can read more about the environmental impact in Freedom Interiors’ article, How The Office Furniture Industry Is Doing Their Part To Save The Planet.

Open Communication With Managers

Again, Google was one of the first workplaces to introduce the concept of open seating.  They placed customizable workstations that gave everyone access to everyone.  Millennials urge companies to take this beyond just colleagues, but to include managers and bosses.  They want the ability to talk and work closely with the higher-ups, and no longer want to feel as if their boss is so intimidating, they can only talk to them about major issues or during their yearly review.  Offices are moving to a more open concept by replacing cubicles, lowering partitions, and changing the look of private offices.

Low or Height Adjustable Partitions

Cubicle partitions that reach six feet in height are a no-go when it comes to creating an open space.  These completely close off individuals creating division among the workers and not allowing for collaboration and communication.  Instead, move to lower partitions.  These allow for privacy as needed, many that even act as sound barriers, while still allowing employees to clearly see everyone throughout the office, which encourages communication and collaboration.

These height adjustable partitions from Pair, properly named Saltine, for their thin and crisp design, create a customizable option for workspaces. These work desk division pieces clip to the side of desks and allow you to manipulate the height.

Glass Office Enclosures

While a number of bosses and owners have moved their desks to the main floor with their employees, that’s not always an option for some businesses.  But that does not mean they should be barricaded away from their team.  Even if Millennials are not in the same room as their higher-ups, a glass enclosure can provide a more inviting atmosphere. The glass, as opposed to a true wall, still allows for needed privacy while maintaining an open concept because of the ability to see through to the other side.  Not only does this provide literal transparency in the office space, but also transparency between employees and employers.

Unfortunately, a 100% open office is not completely do-able.  There are needs for privacy from communicating about or to clients, between employees and employers and private phone calls. Offices still have a need for private stations that can be placed throughout the office and used only on an as-needed basis.

Herman Miller: Framery O Office Phone Booth

This one-person phone booth is great for video or phone calls.  It allows an individual to host a meeting or conversation without disturbing co-workers through a soundproof booth.  The booth is equipped with seating options and pod accessories.

Herman Miller: Framery 2Q Office Pod

While the Phone Booth is a great option for a single person meeting someone via telephone, most meetings require a number of employees inside the same office to collaborate and brainstorm.  The Framery 2Q Office Pod is the perfect office furniture solution to accommodate this need.  This pod measures just over seven feet both in height and width, and a little over nine feet in length, giving room for up to six people at a time.  The office pod comes with seating options from a sofa to bar height table and chairs or a regular height office chair and desks.

So, while millennials are demanding changes in their work environment, there doesn’t need to be a complete overhaul of the company.  Don’t start knocking down walls until you have looked through your office furniture options.  Many times, these simple furniture solutions will provide you the change your employees are looking for.