Lions and Tigers and Millennials – oh my!

Lions and Tigers and Millennials – oh my!

We get it, we get it. Millennial’s are entering the work force faster than ever, by 2025 there’s going to be more millennial’s in the work force than snapchat views per day – only kidding.

I’m 26 years old and, according to CBRE’s Workplace Strategy Group, I’m a millennial. Woooo!

In CBRE’s various studies on the subject of catering to millennials through space design, the overriding theme is that millennials want choice – different areas of the office to have different workplaces to get different types of work done. In my own experience as a real estate broker at CBRE, I couldn’t agree more with this. I fully recognize my perspective/bias – I am not an employee of Google or Facebook. Instead, I am an employee of a historically corporate firm (CBRE has roots back to 1906) in a role that is very client-facing (dark suits and white shirts are the norm.) However, there are still some attributes of more traditionally “tech offices” that would be appreciated in my office and would benefit company culture today and especially in the future.

About a year ago, my team at CBRE won a coin flip (yes, that is how it happened) to pilot a new shared workspace initiative. The company was hiring more associates and needed our cubicles, therefore they demolished an office of a managing director and moved three of us into what had been a 3-windowed office (the standard office size for Executive Vice President’s at CBRE.) At first, I was skeptical. No storage to put my papers/presentations. A smaller desk than I had before. No place to hang my coat or ties. Did I really want a standing desk?

Currently, my desk is situated along the windowline with great light and views looking down Park Avenue (the cover picture of this article is my actual desk / area.) I stand 70% of the day – it helps me focus and be more energetic. In our area, I work closely with Mike Movshovich and Taylor Scheinman. We have a table in the middle of our area that functions as a place to collaborate. When we review documents, we sit at the table. It’s fantastic.

While I love the area, I talk a lot. Taylor tells me I cannot stop “chirping” at Mike. She’s not wrong. We’re partners and while most of our banter is work-related and idea producing – in fact, some of our best ideas for clients and for new business generation come from this back and forth dialogue – some of it is also distracting. Mike and I are close enough in our relationship for him to tell me to shut up, a few times a day, “ev I need to focus,” but that is one noticeable downside about the fully open area.

A big part of our job as brokers is making phone calls. This is true for many professions, especially service jobs like ours. Right now in our configuration, everyone can hear what you’re saying. While most of the time people are focusing on their work, sometimes it’s better not to take the chance and be sure that a phone call / important conversation is absolutely private. Our company would benefit from “call rooms,” and it would be even better if these call rooms had standing desks and a monitor with the capability to plug in your laptop and work. While it’s nice to have a window, these can even be internal rooms. Essentially, these would be mini offices that can be used when privacy is needed. I envision this like a line of porta-potties at a stadium – a row of mini offices next to each other.

Despite being in a more traditional profession, I fully believe that our Company, and every company for that matter, would benefit from a “nap room.” In our business, which is commission driven, the employees that would abuse the nap room wouldn’t make money. So CBRE should not be concerned about that. However, there are nights when you get a bad night sleep and end up wasting the day because you are too tired. Being able to go into the nap room, actually fall asleep for 20-30 minutes, then come back to your desk would be more revenue producing for the company and would make up for the cost to build it/them – I fully believe that. It will also be beneficial for the culture (because who doesn’t love a nap room?)

The above represents my thoughts and experiences in the workplace. In the future, there will continue to be more open space like my desk however offices will not become obsolete. If I am able to fulfill my ambitions and reach the level I want to in this business, I know that I won’t need or even want a massive office. The way I work now is very interactive and outcomes for clients are produced by regularly speaking with my partners. Nothing will replace the effectiveness of in person communication for action and in a big office, I wouldn’t be able to speak to my team as much as I would like to. In speaking with my other millennial friends at hedge funds, law firms and media firms, this feeling of not wanting a big office remains true. In addition to saving companies money, the way we work now is not consistent with the layout and solitude of a big private office.

If interested in learning more on the subject of millennials and the changing workplace, I am available to speak and can make an introduction between your company and CBRE’s Workplace Strategies Group. Here is a link to a report they published in 2014, but is still relevant today. I have other updated reports as PDF’s that I can easily share with you through e-mail ([email protected]) – just let me know.

To quote a CBRE whitepaper,

 “Millennials, more than any other generation, enjoy to work in all types of work spaces and have a strong desire for flexibility and choice in the workplace”

As a millennial, I cannot agree more. What do you think?