The way that we work has come leaps and bounds since the days of pagers and floppy discs, with once-essential components like fax machines and dial-up Internet giving way to new technologies and operating standards. On the cusp of these innovations, our physical environments must also adapt, which is why more companies in Dallas-Fort Worth are reconfiguring and redeveloping their offices. The new spaces better harness the power of technology—and entice tech-savvy workers to bring their talents.
In this feature, we go behind the doors of some of the most impressive, unconventional, and flat-out whimsical workspaces in North Texas to see how area companies are evolving on the cusp of new talent and trends. (Click here to see a photo slideshow.)
Millennials are now the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. And according to a survey by the online workplace Elance-oDesk and the Gen Y consulting firm Millennial Branding, seven out of 10 hiring managers say millennials have skills their generational predecessors do not. More than half of those managers also reported difficulty finding and retaining millennial talent. And with 58 percent of young workers expecting to stay in their current jobs for fewer than three years, how can companies keep their hooks in the proverbial fish?
For starters, businesses are changing their recruiting and hiring strategies in ways that prioritize hard skills over personality, and they’re outsourcing more labor to freelancers or contract workers. But with a record 4.8 million U.S. job openings in August 2015—the most since January 2001—it’s interesting that both companies and millennial workers themselves are struggling with retention.
According to Judy Pesek, the south central regional managing principal of design firm Gensler, younger generations’ priorities are just different. Where baby boomers viewed the work/life balance as a top priority, millennials are looking for jobs with purpose.
“They don’t just want more money, more prestige, or a fast track to the C-suite,” Pesek wrote in a post for D Real Estate Daily. “They want to feel like their work is meaningful in a larger context; they want to give back to their communities. And, they want to decide how and where they work best. The savvy employer who gets this will have an edge on attracting and keeping top talent.”
With data indicating that millennials care less about money and more about the people they work with, many employers have stepped up their amenities offerings. There’s free coffee, sodas, beer, and snacks. Employees can take ping-pong and Playstation 4 breaks. There are slides and scooters and rock-climbing walls.
“It can be proven that office space is not just an amortized asset but is a key strategic tool for growth,” wrote Jo Staffelbach Heinz, president and CEO of design firm Staffeblach, in a recent blog post for D Real Estate Daily. “And while businesses need innovation to foster growth, it is now recognized that the design of space can actually foster innovation. By combining data with metrics, we can now confirm a workspace’s effect on profitability and worker satisfaction.”
This year is the first that Gen Z enters the workforce, which will likely bring even more change to the business climate. According to Forbes’ annual workplace trend predictions, we can expect to see a continuation of the so-called “war for talent” in 2016, plus an increased need for companies to adapt to change as they train incoming generations. More than 3.6 million baby boomers are expected to retire in the next 12 months, with more than a quarter of the millennial workforce becoming managers to fill the resulting gap—at least until the next baby boom, when some 80 million millennial workers start having kids of their own.
Another hot topic of expected conversation for 2016: flexibility. Gone are the days of the 40-hour workweek (research suggests that we now work closer to 47 hours weekly), and Forbes found that 64 percent of managers expect employees to be accessible outside of the office on their personal time. In another survey, Forbes found that more than half of all workers feel “burned out.” Additionally, the average amount of space per employee in the office is expected to drop to 150 square feet by 2020, from 400 square feet in 1985. (But 60 percent of employees say they don’t use assigned space anyway.) To marry these conflicting elements, more employers are relaxing their telecommunication policies, creating new spaces for co-working and intermingling, and stepping up their technological offerings to facilitate better connections across the board.
“One of the things we have learned is that great ideas can happen anywhere,” Gensler’s Pesek wrote. “Creating places where casual meetings and interactions happen within the workplace can spark innovation and creativity. It’s also important to activate your workplace—get people up from their desks and walking around.”
Forbes also expects to see more companies getting serious about office design in the coming year—and using it as a tool to attract talent and increase collaborative work. Fast Company reports this trend, too, asserting that consumer-grade design will become “the new normal”—even in places where it hasn’t ever been considered, like within companies’ HR or IT departments.
Click here to see the full story in D CEO, including a behind-the-scenes look at Active Network, Bottle Rocket, Cyrus One, Jones Commercial Interiors, Reynolds Capital Partners, and True North Advisors. Click here to see a photo slideshow.