The millennial generation, born between 1982 and 1999, is largely devoted to their careers and work lives, while seeking social attachments at and outside of work. Not surprisingly, the physical spaces a millennial inhabits resonates with these core values and beliefs.
At the work place, for instance, Gen Y seeks an atmosphere that promotes socializing and collaboration. Employers looking to attract millennials are aware that they need to design workspaces accordingly to attract and keep their employees.
In a Brookings Institution research conducted on innovation spaces, it was noted that there is an increasing popularity of co-working spaces of late. Millennials want to be able to readily access their colleagues, sparking interesting discussions, brainstorming creative ideas and together coming up with innovative solutions. Recognizing this trend, architects and designers are being hired to redesign spaces so as to help “create communities” and “facilitate collaboration.”
Workspaces now recognize that each individual is different and one’s surroundings impact one’s productivity. Gone are the days when employees were packed like sardines in small cubicles. Instead, organizations now offer standing desks, treadmill desks and social work rooms for those who need to hear a buzz around them while they work, along with colourful blocks and designs to evoke creativity. Further, employers are offering millennials the technological mobility to be able to work from home, coffee shops or other public places. Washington Post is just one of the employers that has embraced this change. Moving away from traditional heavy desks that resonated with baby boomers, they are opting for open and airy spaces loved by the millennials.
Interestingly, Gen Y homes are also turning into workspaces. Between 19-30% millennials say they use their living room to work. Not just workspaces, these central areas of the home are used for everything from entertaining to napping, watching TV, eating and even applying make-up! Pardee Homes Las Vegas designs its homes specifically for millennials. Offering both, a traditional charm along with modernity, the rooms in their ‘Responsive Home Project’ are adaptable so that this generation has the flexibility to use the rooms in multiple ways. Flex spaces appeal to this demographic that likes to tailor their areas basis their needs. Ikea designs furniture keeping in mind that people play, create and gather in the same common spaces.
Like shared office spaces, Gen Y is also known to share their homes with two to three other unrelated people. Known as co-living, this new way of life is an attempt to save money, be more social and make new friends. While it may seem like merely recreating a college dorm atmosphere, co-living spaces are popular for their convenience as they have shared wifi, housekeeping and other such services. The Collective and We Live and Common are among many emerging real estate firms in the UK and US that are offering co-living spaces for millennials in big cities. These housing projects for millennials are built with common living spaces and amenities in each apartment while allowing separate bedrooms for privacy.
As previous generations retire and make way for millennials, employers and home builders have their path cut out. The generation inhabiting their workspaces and homes right now are the millennials, and so these spaces will have to be redesigned and rebuilt to keep this target audience engaged.