Office Design for Millennials and Gen Z

08 January 2019 / By Kelly Taylor
office design for millennials

Interior design trends change with the needs and wishes of the people they serve. In the case of office design, those people are employees. By 2020, 46 percent of all workers in the U.S. will be Millennials, and Gen Z will occupy over 20 percent of the workforce. What does that mean for office design?

Architects, designers and other professionals involved in creating workspaces will have to cater to the new generations to meet their expectations.

The question is, what exactly do young professionals want to see in their offices? In this blog post, we are going to discuss office design for Millennials and Gen Z and the trends they find most important.

Office Design Trends to Attract Millennials and Gen Z Employees

office design for millennials
Millennials and Gen Z are coming to your office… How to make them want to stay?

Both Millennials and Gen Z tend to expect more of the design of their workspace than generations before them. In fact, it can affect their decision on whether to accept a job offer, their overall job satisfaction and even productivity. Moreover, sometimes they are willing to take a pay cut if it comes with a nicer office space.

Personal well-being is extremely important to both Generation Z and Millennials. For example, according to Thrive Global, two thirds of GenZers are already worried about their health. Nearly six in ten Millennials say that work-life balance and well-being at work are crucial to them, according to a survey conducted by Gallup. The question is, how to promote employee well-being through office design? What do young people need to see in their workspace to love it?

  1. Flexibility
  2. Privacy and Collaboration
  3. Staying healthy
  4. Green
  5. Tech

1. They need flexibility

office design for millennials

Flexibility is not only about working remotely. Gen Z and Millennials want to have freedom to easily switch location inside the workspace instead of being stuck in a cubicle.

The transition to flexible office design can start with adaptable furniture, such as adjustable desks and tables, flexible chairs and sit-stand workstations.

Furthermore, an office for Millennials and Gen Z should provide a variety of spaces for different types of work. Some examples are collaboration zones, meeting rooms, and places for solo work – which takes us to the next point.

2. They need room for both privacy and collaboration

office design for millennials

The popular open office concept is far from perfect as it uses the one size fits all approach while each employee has their own work style and nature of tasks. Imagine a person analyzing data or writing in the same room with people answering customer calls non-stop. This poor employee wouldn’t be able to hear his or her own thoughts, let alone concentrate properly.

It does not mean workers should be isolated from each other. A blended approach works great for both Millennials and Generation Z who understand the importance of collaboration as well as need their privacy. A perfect office for these two generations needs to have a mix of private workspaces, meeting rooms, and spaces for collaboration.

Office design can contribute collaboration, too. For instance, peerhatch is a graphic-infused writable wall covering, made to promote teamwork and serve as a collaboration hub. Another good idea is casual collaborative spaces, such as coffee bars, micro-kitchens, and breakout zones where conversations start naturally and can spark new ideas.

As for privacy zones, there are plenty of options for creating them. For instance, designer Sebastian Herkner offers a modular sofa with four levels of privacy that can be adjusted, and Borgo Seating sells canopy sofas that also ensure acoustic comfort. At Metropolitan West, we offer custom gradient glass film to add privacy to spaces with glass walls and doors.

To take privacy in the office to the next level, consider privacy pods such as Nook, a mobile modular huddle pod that comes with wheels and power and USB sockets. While it can be used for some alone time, it is also an alternative to meeting rooms for small groups, which contributes to office flexibility.

3. They need to stay healthy

office design for millennials

Well-being begins with health. Sitting for hours at a time is an issue for many office workers. That’s where flexibility of the office becomes a health factor. If you are creating an office for Millennials and Gen Z, consider choosing ergonomically designed furniture.

Further, it’s useful to keep the WELL Building Standards in mind: think about air and water quality, and let the sunshine through the windows. In one of our previous blog posts we also talked about the importance of natural light in the workspace. According to a survey by Capital One Work Environments, 57 percent of employees would like to have natural light in their office. This percentage beats the numbers for any other office design element.

According to a recent study by the Physical Activity Council, Millennials are the most physically active generation. Almost half of them were participating in high caloric activities in 2017. As for Gen Z, 65 percent of them were at least casually active. It goes without saying that creating fitness opportunities within the workplace makes it more desirable for young workers. Such opportunities can include an onsite gym, rock climbing wall or yoga room.

4. They need green

office design for millennials

And by green we don’t mean money (every generation needs that). Younger generations have embraced eco-friendliness. They prefer environmentally friendly products. They talk about benefits of recycling on their social media pages and invest in solar panels and electric cars. It’s no wonder they appreciate companies who care about the same issues and include sustainability in their corporate values.

That’s how Millennials are driving the green revolution in office design. They make a point to choose workspaces that provide connection with nature. Such connection is the main goal of biophilic design that uses greenery, neutral earthy tones, natural materials and other elements to create it.

Biophilic design is a growing trend in modern office design and it’s becoming more and more popular. It only makes sense to use it when creating workspaces for Gen Z and Millennials.

5. They need tech

office design for millennials

While Millennials might remember dial-up and falling asleep without checking Facebook and Instagram first, they still can’t imagine their life without smartphones, wireless Internet and social media. Gen Z, on the other hand, are digital natives. It means they have grown up with gadgets in their hands and uninterrupted wireless access to the online world.

A study conducted by Penn Schoen Berland found that for a whopping 82 percent of Millennials a high tech office would affect their decision about taking a new career opportunity. On top of that, 42 percent of them are willing to quit their job if office technologies do not meet their standards. According to the Monster Multi-Generational Survey, 39 percent of GenZers say that smartphones are essential to work. The biggest technological necessity for them is social networking.

These findings demonstrate how crucial it is to integrate technology when creating a workspace for younger generations. It’s not enough anymore to put computer desks in an office and flat-screen TVs in conference rooms. Office design for Generation Z and Millennials allows them to have the latest tech at their fingertips.

Conclusion: Office Design for Millennials and Gen Z

Love it or hate it, Millennials and Generation Z are taking control of workspaces, and new office design trends reflect that. A perfect workspace for these two generations is flexible, smart and green. It promotes wellness, flexibility and sustainability. It breathes technology and fresh air from all the greenery, while the natural sunlight shines through the office windows.

In reality, office design for Millennials and Gen Z is simply employee-centric, making well-being and worker satisfaction the main priority. Having said that, older generations are probably going to enjoy working in such office spaces as well. In the end, we all want the same thing – to feel good in a place where we spend so much time, and for many of us it’s an office. Create workspaces with people in mind, and every generation will love them.

office design for millennials
Office Design for Millennials and Gen Z: Infographic

At MetWest, we are dedicated to creating beautiful workspaces that promote well-being and collaboration. We know how to create a stylish eco-friendly workspace every generation will enjoy.

Here are some of the services we offer:

  • Glass films – Our decorative films and privacy films will add privacy to the office while maintaining the feeling of transparency and openness.
  • Solar control film – Let employees enjoy the sunlight without heat and glare and save employers money on energy costs. Not to mention, it’s also an opportunity to score some LEED points and promote eco-friendliness.
  • Mural wall coverings – An easy way to create biophilic design in the office by adding graphics of nature to the walls.
  • Di-Noc – Recreate the look and feel of natural textures without their high price tag.
  • Non-ghosting writable surface film peerhatch – Cover an entire wall with a writable mural graphic of your choice and create a true collaboration hub.

Contact us and let’s discuss what we can do for your office! We are looking forward to hearing about your project.

About The Author

Kelly Taylor

Kelly Taylor is CEO for two companies, an innovator, and driven by her passion for improving the aesthetic and function of her clients’ spaces – a process she calls “WOWification”. As a CEO for Metropolitan West, she leads her team of professionals daily on the front line, providing products and services for design firms, construction businesses, and facility management companies by supplying and installing mural wall graphics, decorative glass films, solar control films and any other film that covers glass, walls, floors, ceilings and doors. Her most recent innovative product is peerhatch, a dry-erase writable wall covering that includes a patented graphical layer to promote collaboration in team environments.

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