The officespaces of our times are quickly becoming a coffee shop again. History has a tendency of repeating itself. The state of the original officespace really started as recent as 400 years ago at Edward Lloyd’s coffee shop in London (now Lloyd’s of London) and it’s probably the way we should be designing our offices for the millennial and Z generations of today. Ten years from now, most of the baby boomers will be retired and millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, will make up 75 percent of the workforce. Even now they make up a third of it. A new study from Bentley University, The Millennial Mind Goes to Work, looks at “how millennial preferences will shape the future of the modern workplace.” They are also sometimes contradictory. Some of the points directly affect the physical form of the office: They love their phones, but face time is important too. Given the purported love for texting (and love for the Skype virtual water cooler) It was a surprise that recent survey’s concluded that 51 percent of millennials prefer to talk in person, 19 percent email, 21 percent chat or text and the phone is so dead at only 9 percent. But according to Ian Cross of Bentley, it depends: Particularly at the beginning of their career, millennials need more validation than previous generations. They like praise, and they want clear direction as to what a manager may be asking of them, which explains their desire to speak to a colleague in person. Even so, says Cross, don’t be surprised to find millennials communicating with friends by text, which is still their primary vehicle for social interacting. Which all seems to contradict the next big finding: 9 to 5? Home or office? the end of 9 to five.  About 77 percent of the millennials surveyed say that flexible hours would make them more productive, while 39 percent of them want more remote working. I was surprised at how low the remote working number was, but the study also notes that “31 percent of millennials do worry that their desire for workplace flexibility is often mistaken for a poor work ethic.” There’s probably some worry that if they’re out of sight, they’re out of mind, and they want to keep up that face time with the manager noted above and what about that work ethic?

There is a complaint in the study that millennials don’t have that good old work ethic, aren’t willing to put in the hours and devote their lives to the office. But is this a bad thing or an opportunity?  While older generations think of their job as a large part of who they are, millennials see work as a piece of their life but not everything. In other words, work doesn’t define them. Family, friends and making a difference in their community are much more central to them than previous generations.” As a result, millennials seek to have more work-life balance. Frankly this could be an example of a healthy adjustment to our world view of work.” So what we appear to have with the millennials are workers who:

want to be part of their community and have a better work/life balance,

want more flexibility in work hours and location,

And want to retain the ability to have real face time with their managers and co-workers.
You get together when you want or need to talk, hang out if you want to be seen, but otherwise generally work where and when you want. This sounds familiar.

A few years ago I noted that the major purpose of an office now is to interact, to get around a table and talk, to schmooze. Just what you do in a coffee shop. Hence there is no accident that office spaces of the world are emptying out and new trend trend of live work space is taking over. 

By Naved Jafry & J. Witwit



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