Just how different are Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers when it comes to how they want to work? Which of these groups prefer working from home? Which thrive in a traditional office environment?
Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates looked at these questions in its recent survey of more than 2,000 adults. And the most surprising result? Millennials — those workers from the ages of 18 to 34 — are more flexible than both their Gen X and Baby Boomer colleagues when it comes to office layout, the length of their daily commutes and their willingness to pass on working from home.
“Commercial real estate, and particularly the office sector, has entered a unique era of servicing three distinct generations,” said Fred Schmidt, president and chief operating officer of Coldwell Banker Commercial Affiliates. “Where and how people work is changing. It’s important for commercial real estate professionals to understand these trends and be able to provide solutions for today’s evolving marketplace.”
One of the least surprising results of the survey? A large majority — 72 percent — of U.S. workers would like to work in a private office instead of a cubicle, open desk or shared office. The survey, though, did find that Millennials are more flexible than others when it comes to working space.
The survey found that Millennials are more willing to endure long commutes to work. These young workers said that they could handle an average commute time of 51 minutes to get to work each day, while Gen Xers said they could take a 36-minute commute and Baby Boomers could handle a commute of just 31 minutes.
The survey found, too, that 77 percent of Gen Xers and 71 percent of Baby Boomers prefer to work from home, while just 67 percent of Millennials said the same. A total of 55 percent of Millennials said that they prefer working in an office with an open floor plan instead of one with cubicles or private offices. A smaller number of Gen Xers and Boomers (both at 41 percent) agreed.
What might be surprising is that 77 percent of Millennials believe that face-to-face meetings are important, while just 67 percent of Gen Xers and 74 percent of Baby Boomers believe the same.
And when it comes to tech, Millennials and Gen Xers, not surprisingly, are more comfortable than their Baby Boomer peers. The survey found that 63 percent of Millennials are as comfortable working from smartphones, tablets or laptops as they are from a desktop computer. A total of 54 percent of Gen Xers felt the same, while just 48 percent of Boomers are as comfortable with mobile devices as they are with desktop computers.
The takeaway from the survey? Things are changing in the world of work. And commercial real estate professionals working in the office sector need to be aware of how office spaces are evolving.
“We’re seeing square footage per employee drop as companies look to maximize profitability,” Schmidt said. “However, we still need to pay attention to how people want to work in order to create an environment that will help recruit and maintain a productive workforce.”