Generational divide more perception than reality?
Age is less of a factor than widely thought when it comes to workplace preferences in the U.S., according to a new workplace strategy report by CBRE Group Inc.
The study, based on aggregated surveys from more than 5,500 office workers across numerous industries, found that while current assumptions about millennials are driving the design of many workplaces today, there is actually little difference in workplace preferences among millennials, Generation Xers and baby boomers.
“The results of this study clearly suggest that variety, choice, access and transparency—attributes typically associated with what millennials want—are indeed important, but not only for millennials,” Georgia Collins, CBRE’s senior managing director for Workplace Strategy, said in a statement. “Our study found that most of these attributes are equally important to Generation Xers and baby boomers.”
Millennials (people born between 1981 and 1999) currently account for about 24 percent of the adult population in the U.S. and are projected to comprise the majority of the U.S. workforce by 2025. This demographic is causing many companies today to debate how to balance the needs of millennials with those of a more tenured workforce.
The CBRE study —Designing the Office of the Future? Don’t plan it around (what you think you know about) U.S. millennials—includes these findings:
· Millennials are collaborative—they report spending approximately 38 percent of their time interacting with others—but Gen Xers (people born between 1965 to 1980) and baby boomers (people born between 1946 to 1964) are equally as collaborative. In fact, millennials report spending slightly more time doing individual-focused work than their colleagues from other generations.
· When asked what types of spaces would enhance a future workplace, millennials placed the most value on spaces that allow them to think and concentrate, followed by spaces to meet and collaborate and then by spaces for learning and training. Of least importance to millennials was space for socializing (although they still rank this as considerably more important than do their Generation X and baby boomer colleagues).
· Contrary to widespread assumptions, when asked how they would like to work in the future, millennials said they’d like to spend more time connecting via email and more time in formal meetings—and less time on company-sponsored social networks.
“These findings suggest that instead of putting too much focus on designing the workplace around millennials, companies would yield better results by designing a well-balanced office that will accommodate the varied needs of different job functions and different preferences of individuals, independent of their age cohort,” said Collins.