Millennials and Coworking

trainees and designers meeting around a 3D printer, discussing novel technologies and new product ideas and developments using 3D printing technology

Millennials – both Generation Y and Z – have very specific demands and expectations when it comes to the workplace. Nearly half want a workplace that’s environmentally aware, according to one study, a third want to be able to personalise their workspace, and  two-thirds like a “fast-paced environment“. They prefer workplaces with a less corporate style, where tattoos, piercing and more casual clothing is accepted.

It can be a struggle for many small businesses in a conventional office to meet these demands. But hiring younger workers is inevitable: after all, your older staff will need to retire eventually! Millennials make up a third of the global population and will be an increasing proportion of the workforce.

This is why co-working centres provide an advantage to companies hiring millennials. They offer better social interaction and peer networking: critical for such an entrepreneurial generation. The pooled resources in a co-working centre create economy of scale and space, allowing for Google-esque perks such as a games room or chillout zone that a single office wouldn’t have room for.

A creative generation

Innovation consultancy How To Impact recently conducted research with young professionals and “emerging Gen Next adults”.

“It revealed this group has an exceptionally high level of media awareness and multiplicity of semi-professional and professional creative interests,” says Matt Whale, managing director.

How To Impact partnered with SUNSTUDIOS to create The Treehouse, a dedicated co-working space specifically for professional photographers and visual creatives. An important part of the project was a “discovery process” to find out what types of physical and service support such workers really needed.

One of the design elements was including partitions to allow separate, but not private, co-working.

“This is key for protecting the development of on-screen work yet still allowing the professionals sat there to feel connected. Downstairs is based around common working and ‘drop-in’ spaces. There are flexible meeting rooms; every desk has been built for purpose and comfy sofas provided to just sit and talk,” Matt Whale explains.

Demand for flexible work

Flexibility is a top priority for millennials when it comes to work habits. They want to be able to work the hours that suit them, including from different locations such as a café, or home. Younger staff juggling jobs and study may want to make up work hours at night or on weekends. A co-working centre that can be open 24/7 is obviously an advantage.

Millennials are already geared up and ready for the kinds of technologies used in flexible workspaces. According to the 2015 Internet Trends report, one in three millennials prefers to collaborate online. They’re happy to use their own Dropbox or Google Drive if collaboration tools aren’t provided.

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Matt Whale also highlights ongoing education as something that’s important in the workplace. Younger professionals in particular want to learn more and develop their skills, and keep abreast of changes in their field.

“Creating a community makes it easier to organise formal and informal learning sessions and to provide more opportunities to share and mentor,” Matt says.

Over three-quarters of millennials are strongly influenced by how innovative a company is when deciding if they want to work there. Co-working spaces are considered a much more innovative type of workplace than a traditional, one-company office. They offer better networking and collaboration opportunities, as well as much more flexibility. These are major priorities for millennial workers, and easy features for co-working centre owners to provide.

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