On Tuesday night, DBI Sr. Project Manager Anne Regan participated on a panel for Work Design Magazine's “Real Talk about Millennials in the Workplace.” The discussion focused on the growth of Millennials—the demographic cohort born between the years 1980 and 2000—in the workplace, as well as the generation’s expected influence on office design and functionality. According to the Brookings Institution, Millennials will comprise approximately 75% of the U.S. work force by the year 2025.

Describing Millennials, Anne emphasized that the group looks for a “work-life balance and makes sure [to] work and play hard”; is “very socially conscious; very aware of…working together, moving forward, and working on large projects [while considering] different people’s opinions.”

Other topics discussed included the sense of loyalty exhibited by Millennials, their creation of community, and their need for adaptability. During the discussion, an audience member asked the panel if the generation truly “needed” entertaining amenities, such as foosball or ping-pong tables. The panel responded that, while these features intended for entertainment help to create a congenial work environment, Millennials are able to work effectively without them. The panel continued to discuss the reasons for the increasing emphasis placed on including such amenities in workplace design. Millennials, who seek out and expect a greater degree of work flexibility than their Generation X predecessors, are often at the workplace outside of traditional (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) hours and, as a result, have a need for a “living” environment—one that is not completely work-focused but offers a more relaxed and comfortable space where workers want to be.

The panel closed its discussion with each participant offering advice for companies and designers who are creating workplaces that are attractive to Millennial workers. Anne’s advice to designers? “Speak to the company’s brand. Millennials will see straight through designing a trendy breakroom if that is not actually how your company functions as a whole. Make sure you stick to your culture and brand and not to the trend.” Additionally, she suggested that Millennials “just be patient and learn as much as possible.”

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