How to arrange office space for young employees?

Generation Z (born post-1996) are already entering the labour market. Meanwhile Generation Y (born in the 1980s and 1990s) are rising to managerial roles and realizing their own business management concepts. This undoubtedly impacts on the labour market and – even more so – on the office space market – says Wojciech Krupa, Managing Partner of Smart M².

What do young specialists expect?
No doubt it is still only top talent representing great value to businesses that can make demands regarding workplaces. The highest number of programmers, IT security specialists, sales staff and creative marketing professionals is among 20-35 year olds.

Salary is naturally a key financial incentive for them, but it is not always only about monthly payments credited to their accounts. Fringe benefits such as multisport cards, private insurance, high-profile events or foreign trips now play a much more important role than before.

A comfortable working environment is another feature of a good firm according to Generations Y and Z. Gloomy cellular offices and crammed open spaces no longer serve the purpose for which they were designed. Actually, they never served it well, but this has now been acknowledged and taken account of.

Young employees value visually attractive and original Google-style spaces with fun rooms, hammocks and preferably a swimming pool. They realise that they will spend about a third of their lifetimes at work and want to feel at their best there. And on top of that, they say no to fixed rules that prevailed in their predecessors’ offices.

Some offices are starting to look like play areas or leisure centres. But a lot cooler and better equipped.

Actual needs of the young
20-35 year olds need exactly the same things as older employees although the latter began their careers at a time when they actually had no choice and had to accept the then conditions, and later got used to them. This is unthinkable to the younger generation feeling confident of their skills.

What they need first and foremost is space. A modern open space is now much larger than 10-15 years ago. It should be designed both to eliminate barriers between employees and to provide some privacy. Partially enclosed office booths where to make important telephone calls without disturbing fellow employees and being watched have become very popular.

Office fit-out is also crucial. And it’s by no means only about an espresso machine that is definitely a must in an office. Young employees want to use advanced technologies and IT hardware at work. Wireless communication, high-tech videoconferencing equipment, efficient company laptops, high-grade air-conditioning and high-definition computer screens are all needed to recruit top talent.

Engage the young in arranging an office
It is advisable to ask employees about their expectations whenever their ideas can be implemented in arranging an office. This applies not only to Generations Y and Z, but to all staff of the future office.

Most training and sales staff do not have skills required to arrange a modern office space, but they do know what would make their work easier. They can therefore put forward ideas to optimize space at a low cost.

In addition, if at least some of their ideas are taken account of, this will have a very positive effect on the entire team and lessen reluctance of some team members to embrace change.

How to arrange special purpose offices: contact centres or BPO/SSC
In the past years, open spaces crammed with telephone workstations became infamous for being narrow and no-privacy places.

The BPO/SSC sector employs approximately 280,000 people across Poland. Their salaries are growing fast and employees are being accommodated in increasingly higher standard offices.

To reduce labour turnover and to build strong sales and customer service teams, employers have invested first in more spacious open space offices and secondly in ensuring leisure areas and a lot more modern fit-out.

Therefore, newly arranged offices must feature larger workspaces, improved soundproofing, comfortable conference rooms, wireless connectivity and constantly expanding leisure facilities.

What to give up on when arranging office spaces for the young?
Architectural barriers that separate managers from their teams are not welcome. This trend has continued for several years and is unlikely to change any time soon. Caution is, however, advised with regard to fleeting fads: niche artistic styles, gaudy colours, nice but rather impractical solutions, and features forced through by one individual or blocking office circulation.

As the typical length of an office lease is at least five years, it would be unreasonable to change office fit-out every year to follow the latest fashion trends. That’s why an appropriate Workplace Strategy should be developed.

An optimal office for young people must also be an office that is optimal for the company and its objectives. These tasks often coincide and, therefore, a lack of time or willingness should not prevent us from having a closer look at office arrangement.

Warsaw, 18 July 2018