Generational Likes, Dislikes in Workspace Offer Surprises: Coldwell Banker Commercial

Think you know everything about what Millennials, Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers like or dislike in their workspace? Think again.

Think you know everything about what Millennials, Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers like or dislike in their workspace? Think again.

Millennials may favor flexibility in their work environment and work habits more than their older colleagues, but not all preferences conform to generational stereotypes, according to a new report from Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates.

According to the survey of more than 2,000 adults, Millennials (classified as those between the ages of 18 and 34) are willing to commute to work nearly twice as long as their older counterparts. They are also the most willing to share workspace and are less likely to prefer working at home than either the Gen X (ages 35-49) or Baby Boomer (50-69) groups.

“Some of the findings go against what you usually hear about Millennials. Our survey found that Millennials are actually the most flexible generation when it comes to where and how they prefer to work,” Fred Schmidt, president and chief operating officer of Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates, told Commercial Property Executive. “Millennials are just starting their careers, so it makes sense that they are willing to put in the time to commute and value face-to-face business meetings.”

One result that counters generational stereotypes found that more Gen Xers (77 percent) and Baby Boomers (71 percent) prefer to work at home than Millennials (67 percent). Most Millennials (55 percent) prefer an office with open floor plan to one with cubicles or private offices. By contrast, fewer than half of Gen Xers (41 percent) and Baby Boomers (41 percent) would rather work in an office with an open floor plan.

The survey also found nearly two in three Millennials (63 percent) and 54 percent of Gen Xers would be as comfortable working from a mobile device, such as a phone, tablet or laptop, as they would be working from a desktop computer. Those statistics on their own may not be surprising, but Schmidt says the number of Baby Boomers comfortable working from mobile devices was notable, coming in at 48 percent.

A further sign of the Millennials’ flexibility is that 59 percent of the group said they would be comfortable sharing their workspace with someone else, compared to only 46 percent of Gen Xers and 49 percent of Baby Boomers. Additionally, more Millennials (77 percent) believe face-to-face business meetings are important than Gen Xers (67 percent) and Boomers (74 percent).

“It’s important for commercial real estate to pay attention to these trends and preferences because Millennials are going to drive demand for years to come,” Schmidt said. “Employers should pay attention to how people want to work in order to create an environment that will help recruit and maintain a productive workforce.”