How we work is changing, but it’s not just about Millennials
Much has been written about the behavioural patterns of Millennials and their impact in the workplace. Google “Millennials in the Workplace” and 34 million results present varying opinions and data on everything from deciphering what they want, how to manage them, retaining them and what effect they are having on workplace culture. Interestingly, a Virtuali survey unveiled a staggering 91% of Millennials aspire to become leaders and believe they already have the skills required for leadership duties. While they have undoubtedly challenged how traditional office space is used and workplace culture is created, this cannot be attributed solely to Millennials. Rather than a particular demographic profile, major advancements in technology, structural economic changes and workstyle evolution have influenced how organisations occupy space and get work done.
According to a Steelcase study on Millennials, there are four key design principles to leveraging Millennial behaviour, which offer insight into the broader workstyle changes applicable to all demographics.
Design for Identity
Workspaces must be socially conscious, promoting social connection and personalisation. Environmental sustainability is key and consideration of energy consumption, recycling, waste and lifecycle are essential. People demand wellness-focused work environments that boast recycled materials, green space, excellent air quality and plenty of natural light.
Design for Growth
Millennials particularly, want a coach, not a boss. They seek personal growth through mentoring and feedback opportunities. Spaces and furniture must be conducive to informal and non-hierarchical collaboration, with organisational transparency. The co-working and co-living industries are tackling this head-on, by empowering people who use their space rather than treating them as employees or customers
Design for Work-Life
The boundaries of work and personal space/ time continue to blur. Employees work hard and often long hours but want flexibility and work-life integration, which differs from old notions of work-life balance. Zoned spaces must allow for a variety of work settings and relaxation. The design should be home-like and promote physical and mental wellbeing. Carefully curated amenities which merge business and leisure will continue to grow in popularity.
Design for Connections
Technology is a key driver for enabling connection and must be appropriately supported in all work settings, whether fixed or mobile. Mobile apps in the workforce will explode in coming years and technology infrastructure must be prepared to handle work and personal technology tools. Physical environments must leverage opportunities for social interactions, by removing barriers and enabling connection while providing control and seclusion when desired.
The global adoption of Activity Based Working, co-living and co-working varies, however with ABW fast becoming the global norm and co-working growth reaching almost 300% annually in some countries, organisations must promote multi-disciplinary approaches to enable their multi-generation workforce to perform best. While Millennial behaviour provides valuable insight into workstyle evolution, the secret to success is ultimately to be agile and focus on the long term needs of your business and people.
Source: 360 Steelcase
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