Office designs are not only made to look good: they are influenced by the office culture a company wants to cultivate, the furniture, architecture and designs put forward; and the generation of workers that encompass the space. Millennials entering the workforce over the past decade means the way offices look and operate are a result of how Millennials made offices a place of their own.
Despite what the rumors say about Millennials seeking whimsy, joy and play in their lives and work, the stats don’t lie. According to Millennial Branding report, 45% of millennials will choose workplace flexibility over pay, meaning a top salary can be trumped by the ability to get out, socialize—or even just get to an appointment when they need to go. This also means workspaces have adopted a more relaxed look and feel to retain Millennial talent, with the same report noting 71% of surveyed companies felt “increased workload and stress” when Millennial talent left.
The Millennial Look
Aesthetics heavily influence a Millennial’s impression of a company, with 76% of Millennials being influenced by office design. WeWork is an example of a leading co-working company and startup that has perfectly captured the Millennial id. Whether it’s Beijing, Brazil, Chile, Spain, WeWork’s open concept, common working areas for teamwork and collaboration, comfy couches, and coffee shop design themes seem to pull at the collective heartstring of a stereotypical urban Millennial.
With places like WeWork, the Millennial office is no longer changing based on global location, but constant no matter your culture or geography. WeWork offices around the world—from Milan to Israel—don’t vary. This comes with Millennials, once known as the “young” generation, finding themselves in positions of clout, such as junior or senior management. Also, many Millennials have entered the world of architecture and design, fuelling the Millennial design theory even further.
A WeWork office common area in Belo Horizonte, Brazil puts an emphasis on collaborative workspaces rather than individual offices. IMAGE Source: https://www.wework.com/buildings/eloy-gonzalo-27–madrid
This design theory isn’t just for coworking spaces. Offices around the world are falling in line to Millennial design; adding couches, bean bag chairs or “rec rooms” that could look just as good in living rooms across the country. Workstations without walls or barriers, and barista bars that make getting an Americano between meetings très easy are also hallmarks of this design.
In Fact, in LinkedIn’ San Francisco offices, all three of these characteristics meet into one office space. With a casual meeting room containing a turquoise couch and purple accents, an equipped kitchen area with a state-of-the-art espresso machine, and plenty of coworking spaces, LinkedIn’s offices take Millennial design theory to the far end of the spectrum.
Mosaic, a fast-growing marketing agency in North America, is also an example that shows the same attributes, if not taking a more subdued approach in their Dallas, Texas location.
With murals, graffiti art and a large neon sign that reads #DownForWhatever, this agency still keeps the color theme in blacks, woods and charcoal greys for a more sophisticated edge; with a common bar area to entertain clients, or an employee happy hour.
Keeping in mind the middle-ground of professional-meets-colorful, Bank of New York’s offices in Manchester, London does just that. While the coffee shop office—or coffice—isn’t mimicked exactly here, coworking space is aplenty. Plus, with an invigorating and perky color theory of blues, yellows and whites, the space is injected with vitality; even having many boardrooms meet as half living-room, half conference room.
Workspaces of the Future
While workspaces that put collaboration at the forefront appear as the hallmark of Millennials, this doesn’t mean we can expect all future offices to look, or stay this way. In fact, we can expect more companies to take a step back from typical trends and adopt workplace designs that are tailored to their corporate culture and values. Plus, as we expect Generation Z to enter the workforce—a generation that values independent work over coworking or spaces designed with collaboration in mind—a shift in design is only expected to happen again.
To accomodate all generations and working styles, this might involve having different kinds of office furniture or a unique floor plan, depending on the organization’s needs. Workplace designs are not only made to look good, but serve a functional purpose. Whatever happens, we can only hope the hallmarks or amenities of barista bars and comfy couches stay a little longer. No matter how we work, or the generation we come from, we can all use a little coffee break.