Creating the Office Space Millennials Want

As the millennial generation – broadly defined as people born in the 1980s to early 2000s – becomes a more dominant group in the workforce, there has been a dramatic shift in the type of physical work space companies are looking for. Gone are the days of traditional office space with cubicles, large private offices and oak doors.

The modern offices of the millennial professional have ushered in open, collaborative workspaces and brainstorming areas. Luckily for landlords and developers, this take on the workplace doesn’t have to be expensive and comes with the payoff  of making tenants happy. 

In Boston, tech and startup companies led by millennials have become an ubiquitous part of the real estate landscape. So what can builders and landlords do to effectively meet the needs of the ever-dominant millennial generation? There are some overriding themes that millennials are looking for in their work spaces. 

Open, Collaborative Space

For millennials, this can’t be emphasized enough. This isn’t your dad’s office building. With technology making it easier for people to communicate from their mobile devices, the main reason for people to come to work is to meet. What once served as private office space is now being utilized as smaller meeting rooms or conference rooms. 

For many young companies, it’s all about opening up the space, replacing the oak doors with glass and adding a little funk to get the collaborative juices flowing. High-walled cubicles have been replaced by low workstations or tables that make it easy for people to talk with each other and share ideas.

Adding Amenities

This generation grew up with technology and gadgets, and as they come into the workforce, they expect technology to come with them. While their parents strived for the corner office, millennials prioritize a vibrant, exciting workspace. 

Builders and landlords need to address this in new building designs, by adding in special comforts and amenities that give the office “oomph.” From breakout areas and coffee-bar type spaces to nap rooms and fitness rooms, there are a variety of approaches builders can take. This also can include incorporating outdoor areas, with opportunities to bring in roof space or walking paths outside the office so employees can get a little fresh air and clear their heads. 

Designing office space that makes the building stand apart and encourages innovation will pay off when marketing to millennials. At the same time, office location is critical for millennials. Besides amenities within their offices, they want shops and restaurants within walking distance. Flexibility is key for this generation. Instead of always holding meetings in the conference room like previous generations, they may want to mix it up and take their employees to a nearby café for a change of scene.

Standing Apart

Even beyond the interior of the building, millennials want an office that stands out from the exterior. They’re no longer satisfied with the traditional skyscraper, but are looking for buildings made out of a variety of materials, like brick and steel, and buildings that are a few different heights. Incorporating as much glass as possible is important, because it can let in the natural light that millennials prize. 

Millennials also want buildings that stand out for their sustainable elements and LEED certifications. For this generation, sustainability is second nature. Millennials have grown up hearing about the environmental obstacles we face, and they want a building that is both attractive and environmentally friendly.

What’s Next

The millennial generation will be leading the work force for the foreseeable future, so builders and landlords need to understand and appreciate millennials’ needs if they want to stay in business. While different companies will prioritize different features and amenities depending on their needs, taking the time to sit down and listen to the tenant is worth it. Just as millennials appreciate collaborative office space, they also appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with landlords, builders and architects on build-to-suit spaces that meet their company’s unique needs. While the previous generations may have heeded the advice of these industry experts, millennials want to be part of their conversation, fostering mutually beneficial relationships with the people who will create their ideal office spaces. 

Some industry leaders may wonder if these office trends are passing fads, or if they are here to stay. Office space will continue to evolve, but as the demand for more original space grows, keeping these priorities in mind will give you an edge on the competition. 

Ryan Romano is a vice president in DTZ’s suburban brokerage group. He has served as a member of the group for six years. Prior to joining DTZ, Romano was a senior account executive at TechTarget in Needham, Mass. He received his bachelor’s degree from Providence College.

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