Young people entering the work force today aren't just digitally inclined, they're also not too keen on cubicles, apparently.
More than half of Millennials prefer to work in an office with an open floor plan than one with cubicles and private offices, according to a 2014 Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates survey. By contrast, less than half of the Gen-Xers and Boomers surveyed prefer an open floor plan.
"Mobile people end up where they want to be, not tethered to a desk where they have to be," says Ricky Biddle, an industrial designer for Turnstone, a brand by the furniture company Steelcase.
To address this changing view of the workplace, Turnstone recently showed off its "office of the future," complete with a mix of home and office furnishings. The model office--which overlooked Central Park (not a bad touch)--housed lounges, colorful upholstery, and seats designed after exercise balls. With the idea that collaborative workplaces can spur creativity and keep young people engaged, the company is hoping to make inroads with entrepreneurs.
Since you're probably interested in knowing how to keep Millennials engaged, here are four office design tips bound to make them happier and more productive:
1. Big ideas come to those who move.
Inspiration is more likely to hit you while you're up and about. And the simple act of walking stimulates creative juices. Turnstone took a page from the book Fidget to Focus--which found that moving a little increases concentration--in designing products like the Campfire Footrest, which can be used to shift weight while standing. The brand also designed a treadmill desk to accommodate thinking on your feet.
2. Plan for chance encounters.
Most of the big breaks people get in their lives probably happen outside the office. Cafés are breeding grounds for good ideas, because they encourage casual conversation through their mellow atmosphere. "Some breakthroughs happen in impromptu settings, not meetings," says Biddle. Open spaces at work can help employees generate new ideas and boost productivity, instead of having to wait for the next coffee run.
3. Great postures come in many forms.
Having better posture is not only about keeping your back straight. Instead, people are more productive when in a variety of positions, says Brian Shapland, general manager of Turnstone. For this reason, the company created furniture that allows people to work while standing, sitting, or lying down. Informal work settings may not be right for everyone, though. Accounting firms, for example, may not be as willing to make the transition to these workplace settings.
4. Use space to start conversations.
Office furnishings, when used correctly, can encourage collaboration. Noticing that tables with umbrellas tend to draw people together, Turnstone applied the idea to low-hanging ceilings and designed the Big Lamp, a drum-shaped, hanging light fixture that mimics sitting around a campfire and exudes coziness. Turnstone's Campfire line also recently came out with rearrangeable furniture like the Slim Table, which doubles as a bench and has built-in power outlets. "Millennials and Gen-Yers want access to continuous coaching, so the idea of a closed office doesn't really work," says Shapland.