With approximately 88 million millennials in the workforce today and 4 million entering it each year, what can you do to update, refresh and welcome this group into your workplace? We all know they grew up on the latest in technology so having top of the line equipment and software is a must-do, but what else can you do to make them “fit in?”
Times Are Changing
For Baby Boomers, an attractive office may have a center “reception-type” area with closed door offices—and those offices were 300 square feet to keep those working inside them happy and content. Today’s workforce is all about open spaces and office sizes. Even for the millennial senior executives, offices are approximately 176 square feet.
Part of the reason offices are smaller is due to the size of technology utilized today. The other part is what the millennials feel comfortable with. Open spaces and sharing spaces with tons of light are essential. Gone are what some experts call “cubicleville” and instead “neighborhoods” are created. These neighborhoods can be designed by department or function, however, the bland and boring and closed doors are gone.
Why Change Now?
Baby Boomers will exit the workplace rapidly in the next 10 years. That means a change now will empower and invite the millennials you’re hiring. If spaces aren’t exciting, imaginative and vibrant, expect your young workforce to move on.
In fact, many old and new companies are looking at spaces in historical districts such as open lofts. These are the areas millennials desire.
Things You Can Do Now
While your business may not be able to afford running out and buying or leasing a new space, there are some things you can do to make your workspaces more enticing. Some of these include:
Departmental “Neighborhood” Wall Graphics
If our young workforce wants to feel like they are part of the team, use wall graphics or murals to identify each department. Think big letters, bright colors and logos here. Place dry erase whiteboards on top of murals and let your team map their way to success.
You might also consider putting inspirational messages on your walls—your vision or mission statement. The more color they are around the better. Dull is gone forever.
Lose the cubicles or push them back to make large open spaces. Get rid of the blinds (Boomers like them closed) and hang airy draperies that match corporate colors. If your windows open, allow this young workforce to take advantage of fresh breezes.
You can also make research and production centers more appealing with digitally-printed wallpaper that creates a quiet space. These are also must-dos for for this era's workforce and remember to include comfortable spaces to sit like sofas, benches or even steps. Access to your networks and electrical outlets must also be included in areas such as these.
Keep workspaces as open as possible. Remember, technology is smaller so a desk and comfy chair is all you need. Another way to use wall murals is inside workspaces. If you have a room with many workers, place these murals on the wall to encourage and motivate. Your employees will thank you and graphics such as these will make your millennials want to work at your business.
Millennials also like to interact with their “neighbors” so it’s essential you don’t hide them behind walls or in dark corners. Ask for their input on what type of wall graphics would inspire them each day.
These also need to be bright and welcoming. A millennial wants to walk into the office feeling excited about the day. They also want spaces clients and colleagues will appreciate.
Get rid of cookie-cutter paintings and instead apply vinyl graphics to the wall. These can include text or your corporate logo.Your ideals or goals. Anything is possible with vinyl.
Furniture that is crisp yet comfortable also aids in make your reception areas unique. Business owners must remember that many of the clients your millennials are bringing in are also millennials. Think about your client base as well when developing reception areas.
Pulling it All Together
Because you’ve invested in the technology this workforce wants—and needs, do consider where they will be working if you want to keep them focused on the job and tasks at hand. And, if you are ready to invest in a new office or lease a new space, hire a room planner that can design the perfect space your employees will enjoy from the get-go.
Planning is essential but so is the ability to change the current workplace environment. With an open mind and vinyl graphics and murals, your spaces will be the place everyone wants to work.
Sullivan/Horowitz-Bennett – Building Design & Construction Network – “Workplace Design Trends: Make Way for the Millennials” May 19, 2014.