By Jeff Revoy
Chief Operations Officer & Co-Founder
When conducting a job search, Millennials, before reading the general description, scroll down to see the perks a company offers. They’ll likely search for the company on annual “Best Places to Work” rankings from Glassdoor, Forbes, and Business Insider to see how it fairs. These younger job seekers are looking for things like in-house yoga, company-sanctioned beer pong, paid time off to volunteer—all of which fit in to their work-life balance guidepost. What you likely won’t see on these lists of excess are “we utilize modern workplace management software to provide a productive, enjoyable and efficient workplace for our employees. Allowing employees to reserve conference rooms, hotel desk, or utilize different work settings (couch, raised desk, etc.) doesn’t read quite as sexy as free yoga and booze, but they are important nonetheless to creating an exceptionally productive workplace.
Quality over Coffee
Millennials in the workplace, who now make up the largest generation in the workforce at 34%, rank jobs and companies according to how they align with their needs and life goals. They are a generation motivated by balance, which is why they are so attracted to companies that bring enjoyment into eits workplace. But they are also the generation swept up by Hygge and self-care, diligent in creating time for themselves; they value flexible work schedules over desk jockeying, couches over cubicles. Though, overall their professional needs are not drastically different than previous generations. The majority of the workforce states that, second only to opportunities for growth, is quality of their manager and an organization’s workplace environment are the .
How does a company advertise something as benign as “quality management and workplace” on a job posting? Quality management is difficult to articulate. Leaders that invest in their employees and offices that keep the lights on are assumed to be fulfilling the bare-minimum, yet these operational perks take a backseat to more marketable ones. But once the allure of free lunch fades or the office coffee pot is routinely empty, it’s critical for a company to demonstrate they are more than empty promises of a robust office culture. Emphasizing lightweight benefits over the operational prowess of an organization undervalues the needs and interests of Millennials at work. According to Seda Evis, the Director of Business and Strategy at Birsel + Seck, “Millennials value coherence between the physical workspace and the culture of the organization. They expect to see the office as an extension of the purpose and meaning of work,” which is to say that Millennials want to feel taken care of at work, not just through words but by their surroundings.
Space as a Service
Your employees want to be set up for success and the perks that are integral to their success are those that give them their opportunity to do their best work. Managers may interpret that as their employees requiring a daily to do list, but on the simplest level, they just want tools, like technology and space. What good is the office coffee maker when it’s always empty? How can you make confidential phone calls in an open office without having to duck into the stairwell? Where on your shared, cramped desk can you get a complete look at a marketing deck?
Solving these problems, and treating space as anything other than a service, is simpler and more important than one may imagine. Offices are no longer an obvious necessity, one that we invest the bare minimum in to keep our operations afloat and outgrow quickly without a space-making solution in place; nor is it a rigid structure with perfectly measured cubicles and corner offices. The integrated workplace management systems and computer-aided facility management software mentioned above are what allow companies transform their offices from a minimally functioning room to a tech-integrated oasis. Some of the opportunities for a service-oriented space are as simple as offering sit-to-stand desks, installing private phone booths, and rearranging an unused conference to mimic a living room with sofas and ottomans. More technically are the operational tools many businesses lack the bandwidth to implement and companies like SpaceIQ focus solely on, such as how to report a blown outlet or locating a staff member who isn’t working from their assigned desk.
The desires of our workforce seem to change overnight while our office structures take months, even years, to adjust, disrupting and distracting people from fulfilling their professional goals. As operators and real-estate junkies, we need to begin looking at space the same way we consider health benefits, happy hour-style perks, and flexible scheduling: as a service to our employees. Viewing space an a need or service rather than a physical object with a 10 year life-span forces us to consider what people really need from it. For Millennials, it means to move freely from one space to another according to their moods, while also still having all the tools of an office available on a laptop. For a business, it means employing words like integrated workplace management systems and computer-aided facility management software more frequently, and translating that into layman’s terms: flexible, high quality management with room for growth.
Sounds like a great job description.