By Sean Spear
There is a shift happening in the office environment—millennials are taking over. At 92 million strong, they make up the largest generation in American history. By 2020, millennials (anyone born between 1980 and 2000, 17-37 in age) will make up roughly 50% of the working population. They’re different from most generations—they’ve grown up with technology and complete access to goods, services and information at the click of a button. As a millennial that has spent the past few years representing some of the most innovative companies, here are five key takeaways I’ve observed from “millennial-friendly” office environments, my company included!
Access to updated technology is a high priority for millennials in the workplace. They’ve grown up in a world where the internet has always been accessible and where things can get quickly accomplished with a simple email, text or tweet. They understand that technology can improve systems to help them work faster, eliminate menial tasks and create better communication with coworkers. If you’re using outdated software and technologies, or your website isn’t mobile-friendly, this could be a huge red flag. Invest in the appropriate tech, because the millennial workforce will notice.
Collaboration at the Office
Aim for a collaborative, creative space that inspires. Millennials desire an office environment that fosters community, where all employees can easily contribute. They enjoy working in pods, having impromptu meetings on the stairs (I’ve actually done this before), talking over ping-pong matches, hanging out at team lunches and brainstorming on the building roof. Most prefer not being separated in cubicles, and would rather have the opportunity to freely collaborate with other employees in an open office concept. If you’re having trouble wrapping your mind around this notion, request a tour at your local co-working space. To give some context, WeWork is the largest co-working company in the world, with an $18 billion-dollar valuation. Every WeWork space is designed with community and collaboration as their inspiration and focus. The bottom line: millennials understand that better, more creative ideas flow in collaborative spaces.
The millennial generation truly values offices that feel like a home away from home. Keep in mind; they seamlessly integrate work with life. Due to technology, they have the ability to work wherever and whenever they want. They aren’t confined to 9-5 office productivity. They can work out of their homes, coffee shops, parks, wine bars, etc. Millennials don’t want to feel constrained at work and desire an office environment that provides a sense of comfort and looks more like a living environment. An increasing amount of offices are now outfitted with comfy sofas, game rooms, open kitchens, gyms, meditation rooms, and some even have beer on tap. Red Ventures’ takes it to a whole different level—their North Carolina headquarters comes equipped with a 6-lane bowling alley. Riot Games’ office in Los Angeles has a game room packed with computers and arcade games to keep the creative energy flowing. Hughes Marino makes it a top priority to provide outstanding spaces to make our teams as welcome and comfortable as possible. As workplace amenities have almost become expected, it’s important to invest in your employees’ happiness by investing in your office.
Health and Wellness
Health is a top priority for most of the millennial generation. Many are willing to pay $5 for coffee, shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, spend a high premium on their monthly gym membership and go for walks during conference calls or meetings. They watch health documentaries and read the effects nutrition, lack of exercise, stress or bad habits play on well-being. Therefore, they understand the importance of healthy eating and exercising often. Having healthy snacks in the office and encouraging an active lifestyle will draw millennials to any business, and major companies have taken note. Apple incorporated a two-story yoga room along with a combination wellness and fitness center for its employees in their new campus. I’ve seen companies with rock climbing clubs, yoga sessions and monthly hikes. Hughes Marino has a fully equipped gym at every office and provides weekly grocery deliveries with healthy snacks. Other companies encourage their employees to go work out in the middle of the day or provide a monthly gym stipend. Eating healthy and working out helps cope with stress and has been proven to help increase focus. By embracing health and wellness, employees will have even more reason to love where they work.
The “why” matters. To millennials, social impact plays a big part in feeling fulfilled at work. Does your company have a mission statement or core values that all employees embrace? The Los Angeles-based company SnackNation is a company I really admire; they display their mission statement in the kitchen for everyone to see daily. It reads, “We help people become better versions of themselves by serving as a catalyst for increased health, productivity and happiness.” How cool is that? Their employees get a constant reminder of why the company exists, and how the company is impacting the community. We discuss our Core Values regularly at Hughes Marino, and have a colorful mural of them on display at our headquarters. Maybe your company doesn’t have a strong “why” (yet). If that’s the case, I would recommend spending time thinking about your company’s purpose. Take time to serve the community by volunteering with your team. This is a great way to bring everyone together for a phenomenal cause—helping others.
There isn’t one perfect office environment, but there are ways to enhance your own. I’ve seen firsthand how embracing these ideas can transform your working space. If you invest in your technology, create collaborative spaces, have an office that feels like home, focus on health and wellness AND have a reason why, you’ll see top talent knocking on your door, productivity increasing and happiness being spread throughout your company.
Sean Spear is an associate vice president with Hughes Marino, an award-winning commercial real estate company specializing in tenant representation and building purchases with offices in San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and Seattle. Contact Sean at 1-844-NO-CONFLICT or email@example.com to learn more.