17 Feb We Don’t All Want Pool Tables – Myth-Busting Generational Expectations for Office Design
For our next blog looking at generational issues in your office, I’m here to chat with you a bit about office design. Many, many reports have come out in the last 5 years making bold claims about what younger generations expect in office design. These articles are usually directed at Millennials – with claims that we all want pool tables, ice cream machines, sleep pods, and a whole host of other extravagant features in our offices.
Though these office design elements do appear in many tech start-ups – we’ve found that there is quite a difference between perception and reality. We often encourage people to go beyond the surface of the issue to look at the root causes. For generational expectations in office design, this means looking at what these design elements say about your workers.
When we conducted research into young Millennials and their expectations entering the workforce, we found that they didn’t want or expect pool tables. Instead, they wanted flexible working spaces. This makes sense if you think about where young college graduates are trained to work – libraries. Most university libraries now have a diversity of study and work spaces – from open plan, solitary cubicles, group work rooms equipped with updated technology, and places to socialize and take a break.
These are the spaces they are learning to work, both on their own and collaboratively. It makes sense that they would expect and perhaps thrive best in offices that replicate these flexible spaces. Being innovative in your office design sends a strong message to younger recruits. Most Millennials are now in the workforce in some capacity – so we are waiting to see what changes the next generation, Gen Z will bring to office design.
But what about the older generations in your office? While you want to encourage new blood to join the team, overhauling your office design to suit their expectations isn’t the answer either. Generation X and Baby Boomers were trained to expect a much more standard office design, with individual cubicles or offices, large conference rooms and small break rooms.
Before you make any drastic changes to your office design, we recommend taking a survey with your folks. Ask them what works for them, and what doesn’t. Understanding what work experiences, and technological changes, have impacted your workers throughout their life will help you find common ground with office design.