People & Productivity

How are millennials influencing the design and concept of serviced and flexible office space?



By Freddie Ward

We are currently in an era where there is a melting pot of generations working in the same office environment. From baby boomers to millennials and most recently generation Z, so the pressure on landlords and providers to create a working environment that pleases everyone has never been stronger.

According to The Institute of Leadership & Management, millennials will comprise more than 50% of the UK workforce by 2020. This age demographic is also becoming more footloose in their careers and expect to move jobs more regularly than any other generation, according to Workthere’s ‘What CoWorkers Want’ report, so for the flexible office market, it is crucial for providers to understand what aspects are having the biggest impact on employee satisfaction.

Have millennials already had an influence on the design and focus of flexible and serviced office space? Typically, we have witnessed that millennials have put the office first as they seek greater collaboration between colleagues and more flexible ways to work. Whilst there is a drive for quality, millennials tend to like the best of both worlds. There is no doubt they have led the charge for more open plan working, but they still seek private space for focussed work. Co-working providers have embraced this theme and tend to invest heavily in break-out space, meeting rooms, focus booths and call pods. This can be a major selling point for a provider and must be enhanced as we enter an ever competitive market. Moreover, we found in our recent report ‘The Office of the Future: Substance over Style’ that 79% of university students expect to have their own desk and that over 10x more students rank company culture as most important compared to office design.

Whilst we cannot ignore the fact that millennials will shortly be making up over half of the UK workforce, it is still important for providers of flexible space to cater for a wider audience, particularly given that there could be workers spanning across four generations in one building. As the market has grown there is no doubt that there has been an increase in providers creating their niche within the market and although start-ups will inevitably consist of a wide range of age profiles, there will be consistency within the cultural beliefs and aims. Providers who embrace the building they operate and invest in its individual design will be the ones most likely to succeed.

Attracting and retaining talent is another key area of focus for providers as the office is now playing a fundamental role in an employee’s decision making process. In order to stay above the competition providers need to invest in their product and brand by responding to what those actually occupying the space really want and then adapting to these changing needs, which will help to futureproof its offer.  

With the UK workforce spending an ever increasing amount of time in the office, getting the right space for those that occupy it is critical. This is particularly important given Workthere’s What CoWorkers Want report identified internal design and comfort of work area as some of the most important factors for coworkers.