Workplace Design Trends: Make Way for The Millennials

Published on Feb 12, 2018


Driven by changing work styles, mobile technology, and the growing presence of Millennials, today’s workplaces are changing, mostly for the better. We examine the top office design trends.


Here Come The Millenials.

Baby Boomers made up more than half of the U.S. workforce in 2010, according to Jones Lang LaSalle ; by 2020, they will be outnumbered by Millennials. A study by Forbes projects that three out of four workers will be Millennials by 2025. This ambitious, tech-savvy, creative cohort has notably different working styles and preferences than other generations; for instance, Millennials may be more productive sitting in cafés or lounge areas than in traditional workstations. Their ease with mobile technology enables many of them to work anytime, anywhere.

In some high-tech companies run by Millennials, nonconventional workspaces are the thing. More open places for informal meetings is a successful strategy because Millennials in general have a lower demand for privacy than Baby Boomers.

via Google Images


Density, Efficiency, and Utilization.

With workers spending more time away from their workstations and spending more time in meeting rooms and project spaces, at clients’ offices, and telecommuting, workplace density is on the rise. Workers typically spend most of their time away from their desks. As a result, personal workspaces can shrink—and they are, decreasing.


To Assign or Not To Assign: Still The Big Workstation Question.

To accommodate more people with fewer desks, designers are turning to strategies such as desk sharing, free desking, benching, and hoteling. Where assigned individual workstations are provided, they are generally becoming smaller and simpler.

Workstations should also be designed to support one-on-one collaboration and the ability to turn an individual’s work surface into a table where a visiting colleague can fit, say, a notebook and cup of coffee. Work surfaces are being coupled with semi-fixed power/data splines that support movable components.

Workstation wall panels are also shrinking in height to avoid the much-maligned “cube farm” model. Recent workplace concepts have attempted to create neighborhoods, which are not necessarily departmental or project-based groupings. Instead, the goal is to help employees identify with their neighborhood: to change their focus from “my space” to “our space”. Consider using distinctive furnishings, lighting, and colors to brand each neighborhood with its own visual identity.

Although efficient space utilization reduces overhead, it is also drives engagement and social interaction in the office.


Open, but Not to Open.

While workplaces are trending toward open and flexible environments, designers must remember the need for quiet, private spaces.

Many people argue that they need acoustical privacy in order to be productive, while others succeed being surrounded by their colleagues, stimulated by their energy. Ultimately, the Building Team must assess each organization’s unique needs, based on such factors as the client’s industry, market, corporate culture, demographics, recruitment, and retention.

via Google Images

Personal spaces can be accomplished through small private rooms for one- to four-person calls, discussions, and focus work—and other spaces with different degrees of privacy. The balance between open and closed varies by department.

The open office layout is still valued, in part, for its original benefits. In late 19th- and early 20th-century commercial buildings without modern lighting and air-conditioning, central bullpens helped channel fresh air and daylight deep into the floorplate. These ideas resonate today, but now some clients prefer to place walled, enclosed offices or conference rooms toward the building core and open-plan workstations toward the perimeter, with plenty of window area. Building Teams are extending this approach, which many see as more egalitarian, by ensuring that communal areas also have access to daylight and views.

Studies establishing the positive relationship between natural light and worker productivity and satisfaction are well known. Daylight’s proven positive effects on alertness, regulating the body’s circadian rhythm, and minimizing eyestrain and headaches. Increased daylighting should also reduce lighting power densities.


Modular Systems: Responsive, Sustainable, and Affordable

Modularity and flexibility are becoming increasingly important workplace considerations in today’s business world. “Office users reshuffle the deck frequently to reflect new processes, product development approaches, and corporate structures. Nowadays, entrepreneurs are asking for portable furniture and reconfigurable systems so they don’t have to throw away expensive interior systems if they move locations.
EX INT-18p
Many vendors offer modular systems composed of interchangeable parts, including raised flooring, furnishings, and walls. Wireless technology and plug-and-play equipment also support reconfiguration. Often, modular components can be demounted and moved, even to another building entirely.

Modularity applies to the planning process as well, by making private offices and conference rooms the same size, it is much easier to repurpose space by moving furniture, as opposed to knocking down walls.


Workplaces, Not Just Workstations

Most modern workplaces incorporate one or more communal areas, as well as meeting rooms, unenclosed breakout areas, and casual seating groups. To make these zones effective, well-planned layouts and furnishings are essential.

The office commons: The new social hub. Ideally incorporating daylighting, outdoor views and, if possible, outdoor access, these areas should have a different vibe than work zones. The spaces may include tables, chairs, comfortable lounge furniture, bar-height tables and stools, coffee service, WiFi, semi-private booths equipped with power for charging devices, writable surfaces, and mobile dividers. The easier it is for employees to move items around, the better.

One advantage afforded by common zones is that coworkers can gather for group meetings and not worry about reserving a conference room. Building Teams should make sure the inevitable noise doesn’t interfere with areas set aside for performing quiet focus work.

In general, avoid the temptation to oversize meeting or conference rooms. Jones Lang LaSalle ’s research has found that 75% of meeting rooms are designed for four people or less. Huddle rooms, equipped with technology and display tools, often provide a greater return on investment than larger conference rooms.Some large rooms may still be required to host bigger group or client meetings, training sessions, or lunch-and-learns.


Lifestyles and Recruiting

Companies are embracing employees’ needs for work-life balance in an attempt to boost satisfaction, productivity, and retention. Yoga classes, walking clubs, bike racks, wellness rooms, and daycare facilities represent just a few of the strategies. Some companies incorporate light recreational amenities such as ping-pong and pool tables as stress relievers. Others are asking volunteer health councils made up of employees to develop fun ways to promote wellness.

In the past, kitchens were located as close to workstations as possible to minimize time spent getting up to refill the water bottle. However, research has shown that walking around during the day is important to employees’ physical and emotional health.

via Google Images


Consumerism is increasingly related to job satisfaction on a grander scale, inspiring workplace is just as important as offering a big salary and good benefits. Community gathering spaces, appealing food offerings, workout facilities, outdoor break areas, recreational amenities, modern furnishings, and advanced technology platforms communicate the message that an employer cares for the well-being of employees, which can be a big aid to recruitment and retention.