OK, so we can’t all have offices like Google, but at the very least, before you order more cubical walls, consider the space that Gen Y, your future workforce, will be most productive in.
Hint: it isn’t a cube farm.
Gen Y wants a comfortable collaborative workplace, something more like a living room than a traditional office. And, if you want to keep them around, it’s to your benefit to look into what you can do to make them comfortable and productive.
Forget the boardroom. Face-to-face meetings are the old way to accomplish sharing information and ideas. Technology today allows your workforce to have virtual hangouts and chats to communicate with team members, and Gen Y fully embraces these technologies.
Tear down the walls!
Create open spaces that allow employees to see each other and increase interactions. Gen Y has a very collaborative attitude about work and sharing ideas. The office environment needs to be conducive to this way of working. Individual offices and desks put barriers between people.
Traditional office lighting, huge overhead fixtures generating uniform light, will not appeal to your Millennial workforce or work well with your changing workspace. Natural lighting boosts energy levels and creativity; it’s also cheaper than electric light.
Natural light isn’t always available. Individual creative lighting is a great way to go. Allow employees to control the light they work by. Studies show that being able to control their own light kept employees happier, more creative and more productive, not just Gen Y, everyone.
We have laptops and other mobile devices to do our work. We take our work home, on the bus, to the coffee shop. A desktop computer sitting on an assigned desk is redundant.
Fill some of your open space with communal work tables and outlets to plug into. Allow employees to roam freely and find their own workspace that is suited to their current activity.
Speaking of activity, consider making room for standing desks and even treadmill desks, the latest trends in office furniture. Standing desks allow the blood to keep flowing and increase energy levels. They put employees at eye level with others walking by, increasing communication and engagement.
Lounge furniture in places will certainly make your office feel more homelike and encourage employees to be comfortable while working.
Who’s doing it
The Nerdery, voted one of the best places to work in Minnesota by the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal, took the plunge and got rid of walls to solve a space problem, increase communication and accommodate an increasingly younger workforce. They carved out a space right in the middle of the work space and called it the Lawn. The lawn eliminated offices and created a more collaborative productive work environment that is working very well for them.
Attracting and keeping Gen Y to your organization is essential to the future of your business. You need to create an environment they are comfortable working in, space they want to spend time in or they will find somewhere else to spend it.