By Steve Brown The Dallas Morning News
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Say goodbye to the cubicle and hello to the office lounge! In an effort to attract millennial workers, many companies are opting for ultra cool, modern, collaborative office environments.
Developers and designers creating the latest generation of workspace environments are scrambling to keep up with a changing market.
The influx of millennial workers has caused them to toss out familiar floor plans in favor of new offices that will appeal to younger workers. There are more open work areas, and office cubes are getting tossed in the dumpster.
"It's all about the anti-corporate experience," said Manuel Navarro, who's in the Austin, Texas, office of Ziegler Cooper Architects. "We are deconstructing the office and make it look like the loft experience and industrial."
In new office spaces, Navarro said he's designing areas for game rooms, music jam rooms and pool tables. One recent project had a "rustic lodge" break room with a gas fireplace.
"Every project tries to outdo the other," Navarro said earlier this month at a meeting of the National Association of Real Estate Editors in New Orleans.
Food is big with millennial workers and employers and office owners are giving them lots of options with lounges, dining areas and outdoor cafes.
"A lot of these companies are providing amenities like breakfast, lunch and dinner five days a week," Navarro said. And coffee bars have replaced the corner office as must haves in newest corporate enclaves.
"Coffee is king and people want to be around that coffee shop vibe," Navarro said.
Millennial workers and the developers that are trying to lure them are in love with the industrial style workplaces that are popular in older cities such as New York, Chicago and Boston.
In Dallas, developers are turning century old downtown warehouse and commercial buildings into modern collaborative office environments.
"We get a lot of young perspective that we want it to feel really raw and industrial," said Kim Rousseau with Atlanta architect Cooper Carry. "Sometimes that raw industrial feel is way more expensive.
"People assume that something a little more rustic is less expensive."
Rousseau, who has worked on State Farm Insurance's new suburban Atlanta campus, said that millennial workers want more collaborative space.
"It's important for them to be really open and connected with each other."
But most of the new generation open space offices also have more small conference rooms and small private chambers where workers can escape from the noise and get privacy.
"You are basically planning two spaces for each employee," Rousseau.
As you might imagine, the culture clash between older workers and the millennial generation is being played out in these new office designs.
"To baby boomers and Generation X, workplace was something you adapted to," said Bryan Berthold with commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield. "When the millennial arrived, they are expecting the workplace to adapt to them, their personal lifestyle."
Berthold said older top managers have to get their heads around today's workplace needs.
"I have a millennial workspace I'm creating and I have to get baby boomers to approve the expense," he said. "They say, 'a bike rack, you're kidding. They don't need that to work.'"
But managers who are trying to attract and retain young workers are less worried about what the boomers think.
"They say this space is dad's Oldsmobile it's not where we need to be," Berthold said.
Designers say the newest office shift is to allow for the workers pets.
"I'm seeing a big trend in dogs in the office," Navarro said, who knows of one company that allows 12 dogs per floor.
"I haven't seen any cats yet."