Commercial Real Estate

CRE Opinion: Real Estate Advisement for an Intergenerational Workforce

Once perceived as a challenge, generational differences present an opportunity for companies to figure out how to get employees to “all hang together."

Torrey Littlejohn, senior vice president, JLL

Earlier this spring, I received a call from JLL headquarters asking if I would serve on an intergenerational workforce team.  I was busy, the name was long, and given that I’m a minority and a female in corporate real estate, I have no shortage of Employee Resource Groups and/or Workforce Teams to be a part of. My initial reaction was, “no.”  However, the name did peak my curiosity. I wanted to know, “Why did we need one?”

The answer is actually all around us. There are now more generations in the workforce than ever before. Studying, learning and adapting to the collective knowledge of all these generations allows companies to create a more productive work environment.

Intergenerational issues are broad and exist in all industries but if you’re reading this article your question is, “How does this impact real estate?” It adds another qualitative item to the many factors companies consider when choosing a location and designing space. For the first time in history four generations are working together: Veterans, Baby Boomers, Gen X’ers, and Millennials.

Although millennials are the future, the other three segments make up the majority of the current workforce, with a 5thsegment well on its way.  Our clients need to ensure there are multi-generational components to evaluating their space needs. Whether it’s location, build out, and/or technology office space needs to be conducive to all employees in all generations. Decisions on collaboration, work environment, remote working, and workplace design will impact a company’s ability to capture and leverage the knowledge of multiple generations in the existing workforce. More importantly, in today’s tight labor market the right decisions in real estate and workplace design will impact the attraction and retention of these generations.

Consider where we are in North Texas – the beneficiary of significant year-over-year job gains and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. Gaining a stronger understanding of the employment base can make or break recruitment pursuits and retainment for top talent in our respective industries. Additionally, what I’ve found is that companies want to do business with companies that look just like them. JLL isn’t talking the talk, we’re walking the walk.

Something the intergenerational workforce recruiter shared resonated with me – this exchange from the Continental Congress:

At a meeting of the Continental Congress after the signing of Declaration of Independence, John Hancock supposedly said that Congress, having signed the Declaration, must now “all hang together.” Benjamin Franklin is reported to have replied: “Yes, we must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

As real estate advisors, our short-term goal is to help our clients find and design space where companies and all their employees can thrive today. Our long-term goals should be to help clients develop space strategies that evolve with the generational shifts to occur over the next 10 to 15 years. Generational differences are often perceived as a challenge but, today these differences present an opportunity for companies to figure out how to get employees to “all hang together.” The companies that do, will win.

“So Torrey, are you in?”

“Absolutely,” I replied.


A senior vice president on JLL’s tenant representation team, Torrey Littlejohn represents both local and national corporate office clients in facility and site acquisition and disposition. She has 15 years of experience in the Dallas-Fort Worth market.


Sign up now to get breaking commercial real estate news and industry reports from the D CEO editors, plus on-the-ground insights from nearly 100 contributing editors across all sectors.