How to Meet Millennials’ Standards for Collaboration

According to a study by Aon Hewitt, nearly 50% of millennials plan to actively look for a new job in 2015. With 80 million millennials in the U.S. alone, it’s time to start strategizing around how to attract their talent, meet their needs, and keep them engaged.

Global research firm Gartner found these interesting facts about the current state of the workplace:

  • Employees are only spending about 40% of their time at their personal workstations
  • Non-group tasks have decreased to about 20% of the working day

With larger percentages of this generation joining the workforce every day, the work environment is changing. The millennial generation grew up on collaboration, and they expect that in the workplace. So if you really want to attract and tap into their talent, you’ll need to reconsider your office setup to support collaboration and creative thinking.

Removing Cubicles in the Office

Traditionally, employees would withdraw to their private space and work as human silos. This is the opposite of what millennials desire; they crave collaboration. And the first step to satisfying that hunger is to say “Rest In Peace” to cubicles. Interior design and research firm Knoll ran a workplace study and discovered some remarkable results after companies moved from cubicles to an open-floor design:

  • Performance increased by an average of 440%
  • There was a 5.5% reduction in business process time and cost

When you think about it, walls physically block communication. They separate people, and they prevent teammates from conversing with one another. So why are organizations still keeping them up?

Try this out for size: group desks together in pods or line them up in rows so employees are in close contact with each other. Make sure teammates can easily verbally communicate with one another without having to shout or move too far from their desks.

Designate Collaboration Spaces for Work

Once you’ve said goodbye to the cubicles, the next step is to create spaces that encourage casual collisions and collaboration. According to this survey by IdeaPaint, millennials reported that only 30.8% of their ideation meetings are planned. Here are four solutions that foster both spontaneous and scheduled brainstorming:

  • Open meeting areas: Scatter tables and chairs in various spaces around the office. This allows employees to quickly gather when they need to brainstorm, instead of having to wait for a meeting room to open up. If you hang a whiteboard on a nearby wall, then you’ve got a fully functional meeting space.
  • Break rooms: Idle chitchat around the watercooler isn’t always a time waster. In fact, the majority of watercooler conversations revolve around work. You never know when a brilliant idea will pop up.
  • Genius bar: Meant for eating lunch or teamwork, these long stretches of counter space allow employees to just step right up to the bar and work together. It creates a more centralized space for collaboration where multiple teams can gather in one area.
  • Meeting rooms: You obviously can’t forget to keep rooms that people can schedule for formal meetings. They’re still necessary when you need to discuss a sensitive topic or gather a large party.

A Work Environment for the New Way to Work

Out of respect for fellow colleagues, collaboration can’t always be done at people’s desks. So to encourage open, unbridled teamwork that appeals to the millennial generation, create these collaborative spaces so people can feel free to brainstorm and let loose their creative ideas. Create a work environment that matches the new way people are working — with spontaneous, open collaboration.


Author Bio:
Sabrina is a Content Marketing Specialist at TINYpulse, writing about and researching new ways to make employees happier. A Seattle native, she loves her morning (or anytime) coffee, spending her weekends on the mountains, and of course, the famous rain.

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