Millennials and the Importance of Design
Millennials currently make up about 40% of the workforce, and are expected to grow to about 75% by 2025 according to research by Cushman and Wakefield. Considering the unprecedented access to education and information, this generation is a key component to future global growth.
Evidence shows us that 62% of millennials choose to live in urban mixed-use neighborhoods, and of this pool, 66% are renters, supporting the idea that they are less enamored with ownership. They enjoy the flexibility of varying their work environment e.g. working from home or the nearby coffee shop. However, millennials are “experience hoppers”. They are very likely to move from company to company, as soon as the rate of new experiences declines. They are less company loyal and more into seeking insights on new and creative ways of doing business. This may be viewed as selfish by some, but perhaps it is simply that this is required to stay valuable in a world where knowledge becomes obsolete faster.
So, what does it take to attract, engage and retain this younger pool of talent? Consider the psychology and impact of design.
Companies have come to understand that location is not the only determining factor in a millennial’s decision to join an organization. As opposed to the Baby Boomer generation who adapted to their workplace environment, the new generation expects employers to adapt the workplace environment to them.
Millennials believe that the workplace environment and how a company brands itself, is a key indicator of how formally the business operates. Essentially, the environment speaks volumes on what the company and its employees stand for. Accordingly, commercial developers have responded by designing new projects that focus on some of the key emotional and psychological elements important to today’s employee.
Millennials thrive not only on collaboration, but on competition as well. “In response [to generational shifts], companies have moved away from close-walled, exterior offices and high-walled cubes to workstations designed to create spontaneous interaction,” wrote Cushman & Wakefield consulting manager Michael McDermott in an email. “Even traditional, conservative industries have shifted their workplace design to realize higher productivity levels based on worker engagement.”
Lighting and color are also factors in mood and productivity. Whereas artificial lighting can reduce levels of cortisol resulting in anxiety and stress, natural light can stimulate workers making them more alert. Designers have incorporated more natural light to their projects by adding more windows than walls and by creating more access to exterior spaces. Furthermore, adding colors like blue and green to the design scheme can stimulate productivity and balance, respectively. Adding art and personal items to the office can further enhance the work experience.
Another important factor are spaces to unwind. With modern technology enabling employees to work from virtually anywhere, millennials do not conform to the notion that working at your desk 14 hours a day makes you a productive employee. Instead, they take time to unwind in common areas, lounges or even outdoors. Employers are incorporating these serendipitous meeting areas in their design plans. Additionally, kitchens are being designed into the workplace, as nutrition is a key component to keeping employees stimulated and productive.
The psychology of design is not a new concept, but it’s drawing our attention because it’s a prerequisite for the new generation, a generation that is a major driver in the current commercial real estate industry because of its growing impact on the global economy. In today’s world, design is working to enable businesses to maximize output from human capital.
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs
Michelle Muñiz is a former real estate agent licensed in Virginia. She has almost 20 years experience in residential real estate investments and property management. In 2006, Michelle opened her own property management firm focusing on military relocation. She now owns and manages property in 5 states. As a graduate student at the University of San Diego’s MSRE program, Michelle hopes to grow her knowledge in commercial real estate finance and investments to expand her portfolio to include multi-family assets.