Millennials are paving the way to the modern workplace


Today, one of the biggest challenges for organisations is not only attracting but also retaining employees. Experts predict that by 2020, millennial and Gen-Z employees will account for 59% of the workforce[i], so the need to create a space where this generation wants to work is more important than ever. We explore the subject of millennials, their expectations and how they are impacting the workplace.


Millennials have grown up in a technology led society, which is only becoming more apparent. Connections to social and professional networks are made online, and almost everything can now be bought, booked, looked up or shared in the click of a button. However, the nature of this fast-paced lifestyle also means they have no tolerance for slow, outdated technology, with 59% of millennials stating that they evaluate a new job based on access to state-of-the-art technology[ii].


Millennials also have little time for old school workplace environments. Poor lighting, small cubicles, segregation and uninspiring surroundings do little to support the more flexible approach to working that is fast becoming the norm.

Of 2,500 millennials surveyed by Colliers, 41% preferred working in a room with up to 6 people, 19% preferred open plan or hot-desking environments, 12.5% like partially divided space and 14% like to work in a private office.iii Flexibility of space is clearly key to the future workplace.

An environment that satisfies these modern needs is agile working: a solution that empowers people to work where, when and how they choose. Offices with an agile working environment tend to include conventional workstations for static or hot-desking staff, meeting rooms, breakout, dining and even exercise spaces, allowing staff the choice of a buzzing collaborative environment or the sanctuary of a private space to work alone. Some companies extend their policies to include other locations so that staff can work from home, from a coffee shop or on the tube. Largely enabled by technology, the workplace, for many millennials, is anywhere with an internet connection.


Closed-door management and unnecessary bureaucracy are often rejected by millennials in favour a more open, collaborative and transparent dialogue across companies. Gone are the days of the workplace being led by senior leadership. As older millennials move into management positions, flat management systems and more informal working relationships are a commonplace alternative to traditional executive hierarchies.

Genuine connections bring a sense of community which is important for millennials. Businesses that promote social as well as professional relationships or that maintain a strong ‘family’ feel despite growing beyond their humble beginnings can benefit from a team of very engaged and loyal staff. 


Research suggests that millennials are more engaged when their own values are aligned with their employer’s corporate social responsibility, giving them greater motivation to work towards a common goal. Having a strong brand with authentic values is the best way to attract a network of staff that truly believe in their company’s purpose.

The negative effect of this is tangible in the financial sector which has suffered a bad reputation in recent years. 21% of millennials questioned said they wouldn’t want to work in financial services[ii].

Office design increasingly involves brand integration initiatives to create offices that reflect the aims of the business, inspire staff on a day to day basis and attract like-minded candidates when recruiting.


Unlike generations that came before them, millennials don’t believe that being miserable at work comes with the territory and they aren’t willing to compromise their personal life goals to progress their careers. Life is more about balance. In fact, one of the top priorities of millennials when seeking a new job is how much time off they are entitled to[i].

Employee mental health & wellbeing should be a priority for any employer looking to attract and retain talent and should also be considered when designing their spaces.

It is well-proven that natural light, space and a sense of nature contribute to increased happiness and in turn promote personal and professional growth. A study of 7,600 workers found that those who worked in spaces with green or other natural design features reported a 15% higher level of wellbeing, are 6% more productive and 15% more creative overall[iv].

And so…

Millennials have been labelled lazy and entitled in the press but contrary to this, statistics show the average UK millennial works more than 40 hours a week. The concern is that over half of them say they are not engaged at work[ii].

It is this that means it is now integral that the workplace adapts to suit their needs. It's the first time the commercial real estate sector has been led by its consumers rather than its landlords and building management companies.

At Thirdway, we recognise the opportunities that a well-designed office can offer, and we work across various industries to achieve the results that employees seek now and in the future.

90% of ThirdWay’s 129 staff are of the millennial generation which gives us a huge advantage when we’re creating concepts for like-minded teams. With nine years of practice we know what makes an effective workplace and we know that our designs guarantee positive change.

i   Manpowergroup Millennial Careers: 2020 vision 
ii  PWC Millennials at Work report
iii Colliers International CEE Office Report: Work-Life Balance Is Vital for Millennial-ready Workplaces
iv Human Spaces report 




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