PLACEmaking delve into the issue of why your traditional workplace is putting off the next generation of talented employees
According to research by Mindspace last year, 21% of 18-24 years olds have turned down a job offer because of the design of the employer’s offices and/or lack of amenities.
So what’s wrong with the traditional office? Why would anyone be so put off by superficial design and what exactly are these missing amenities? After all, surely an office is a place to work – and amenities are just a distraction from concentration and productivity.
If this is your reaction and you are currently recruiting, you need a total rewire of your perception not just about modern office design, but of what purpose the office actually serves in 2019 and why redesigning the office as a workplace is one of the best motivational investments an organisation can make.
In the traditional office, hierarchy is strongly reinforced by how the space is laid out: management grades have offices around the perimeter and all other ranks sit in row after row of desks in anonymous open plan space. Offices look broadly the same with pale colour schemes and the odd pop of bright colours on statement furniture pieces in branded reception areas. The overall impression is of supervised control.
Technology in the workplace
Meanwhile, younger generations are finding their more traditional employers’ technology offerings to be so outdated or impractical that they instead just use their own devices. ICT has fallen into the same trap as office interior design. It’s all too generic. What you get is what the ICT department is contracted to give you and only what they are prepared to support, which is almost never what you want or what you need.
Young people who reject working for organisations that still tolerate this approach are demonstrating that they don’t intend to passively accept whatever generic, catch-all solution is on offer – they want to maintain and develop their own ICT skills. Millennials are the first generation to have grown up with super-fast internet connectivity in their pockets, and they expect to be able to utilise flexible, effective and familiar technology when carrying out the tasks required of them in order to meet a business’s objectives, ambitions and opportunities.
And what of the amenities that this fifth of young people say is missing in employers’ offices?
Have a look at the types of workplaces that this group does choose to work in. They are often the polar opposite of the traditional office with standard amenities. They are quirky, informal and personal spaces often clustered in mixed communities juxtaposing, for example, small scale tech-based entrepreneurs with professional services, creative studios and craft workshops. They often occupy only small areas of their own space but share common resources and exchange information and ideas without the boundaries of corporate confidentiality. They are rife with communal areas, allowing a more relaxed approach to building relationships between coworkers and a freedom from the constraints of the corporate world.
In reality, many larger organisations are committed to their city centre-based office buildings and workplace-related legislation prevents such enterprises adopting the same characteristics of small scale start-ups. But what they could and should recognise is that whilst in the past the promise of a stable career persuaded many to accept that compromising their personal desires and accepting corporate working styles, patterns and way of life was worth it, younger people today are well aware that there is rarely such thing as job security.
How this affects employment
Maybe the young people who reject job offers because of the quality of the office design and lack of amenities are really rejecting what they regard as failed model of employment, and instead preferring to embark on their own adventure – taking control of their own careers and clearly expressing that in the bespoke designed places where they choose to work. Perhaps most prominent is their desire to work for an employer who values health and wellness and recognises their need for a better work-life balance.
Larger employers can rest easy that four fifths of young people are likely to accept jobs with them despite their outdated office design and limited amenities.
Unless, that is, the other fifth that do reject these jobs are the very people they need to attract.