Technology. Mobility. Collaboration. Transparency. HUH?

I’m sure you’ve heard it all, especially if you’ve been keeping up with my blog. Technology. Mobility. Collaboration. Transparency.

These are the buzzwords constantly flying around with regards to the composition of the modern office space. So, you may be asking yourself, “why the emphasis on freedom now?” when things seemed to have been working just fine up until this point. It’s simple: if you’re one of those people asking that question, you clearly aren’t a member of the latest generation that is currently driving change in the workplace. New technology allows us to work together in ways we’ve never been able to before. But, it takes initiative on the part of a vast amount of people in order to not only institute these changes, but to be able to utilize them in the proper manner in order to attain optimal results.

For those of you that are already “plugged in,” this may seem like a given. But, for the members of the commercial real estate industry who are of the tech-resistant sort, this is a critical piece of knowledge to keep in mind. Millennials, a generation composed of over 95 million people, are rapidly entering the workforce and will be dictating the terms involving the definition of a “traditional workplace culture” from this point out. As a result, in order to attract the best talent, many companies have begun to ditch conventional, private office spaces in favor of open workspaces that are meant to foster creativity, collaboration and enhanced productivity. Which, in turn, create a more vibrant and fun work environment.

The changing environment for office space in 2015 means many things, but the overall theme is the disruption of the old traditions. Open workspaces are replacing cubicles. Even “private offices” are being made public with panes of glass replacing dry wall, demonstrating commitment to a real level of transparency in the office. Bright colors are replacing dull, muted ones. Bean bag chairs, stability balls, plush couches and treadmill work stations are replacing office chairs and desks. Office kitchens are even achieving another level of significance! My company, Onyx Equities’, new kitchen resembles a coffee house to create a calming vibe for my team (more on this in a future post).

The carrying theme revolving around all of these new changes is breaking down barriers. Providing teammates with environments to collaborate more will likely aid in bringing them closer together and allowing them to more accurately pinpoint their common goals. Collaborative work environments foster the level of trust and openness that encourages each coworker to view the office as a community, rather than as a fragmented, dog eat dog environment. The more team members are encouraged to interact with one another, the more likely they are to understand each other’s quirks and be able to communicate more effectively as a consequence.

In the end, as I stated before, the Millennial generation is concerned with breaking down barriers through the use of new technology. For example, between email, mobile devices and video conferencing, there is this looming expectation that we are all supposed to be available for contact at all times. This sentiment has trickled over into people’s career lives as well, and due to this, they are expected to work more now than ever before. Some members of the older generations who are truly out of touch may misconstrue the more “relaxed” components that are commonplace in an open work environment as proof that the younger generation is spoiled, lazy, and unprofessional. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, because in fact, it’s the exact opposite.

Why do Millennials want to collaborate more? Why do they want to feel more comfortable at work? It’s because they are putting in an incredible amount of hours, both inside and outside of the office. Modern technology has them on call at all times. So, in order to cope with the extra workload, it sure helps to be able to view your coworkers as extended family and your office space as your extended home. This, my friends, is why I think open office spaces are the way of the future.