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The millennial force: changing the workplace and its culture

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01 May 2019

The Millennial Force: Changing the Workplace and its Culture

Born between 1979 and 2000, millennials are rapidly redefining how everyone lives, plays and works. Concepts like the sharing economy have established new norms in how we commute (Uber and Grab) and how we live (Airbnb).
At work, millennials are becoming increasingly influential while on track to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025.

The Millennial Perception

For a long time, millennial working habits and traits have been a topic of much conversation and debate, mostly misunderstood for their different approach and style to working. Earlier generations have labelled them disloyal and entitled.
In many workplaces, corporate culture is traditionally top-down and rigid, with mandated working hours, seating arrangements, and stipulated lunch breaks.

According to a study by Intelligence Group, millennials aspire to be their own boss, enjoy flexible working arrangements, and value good work-life integration. They thrive as part of a wider community that has a shared purpose, and value interactions with other like-minded individuals with whom they can have meaningful collaborations with.

Traditional office spaces are not set up to be conducive to this flexibility, and in fact some are still designed to minimize or limit human interaction to the pantry and common areas in order to ‘enhance’ employee productivity during office hours.

For employers, the work environment they offer could make all the difference when attracting and retaining talent or even when driving change within the organization, given the impact the actual design of a workspace can have on the culture of an organisation.

Fueling the demand for the Co-working sector

Largely, this explains the immense growth and continued potential of the co-working sector.
Co-working operators like ourselves offer customizable spaces for anyone from a single freelancer through to enterprises such as Wilson Associates, FAVE and Dropbox who look at spaces to fit up to 200 employees.

In the past year, we have seen a 50% surge in demand from enterprises looking to open satellite offices, or house specific departments. In the next five years, the share of enterprise members is expected to increase to 70%-80%, led by an increasing demand for service-driven workspaces and a suite of community programming.

About 40% of our existing members, both individuals and employees are millennials, making up the single largest group across our spaces. As many begin to take on senior management roles, corporations are adopting flexible working arrangements to meet the needs of evolving employee culture. Research by CBRE shows that amongst the top five concerns, millennials in Asia Pacific place high emphasis on time spent commuting, and a good office location, whilst 71% are willing to trade other work benefits for a well-designed office.

An example of this is Wilson Associates, a luxury interior design firm with a 100-strong headcount. Its Singapore office shifted from a commercial building in Tampines earlier this year to a 10,000 square foot space within our flagship location at Marina Square in November 2018.

The move was spurred by organizational growth and the need for flexibility to customize its space to meet the organization and employees’ needs. In its new space, the team is able to tap into community facilities and community engagement programmes to enhance interaction with other members and provide a heightened focus on wellness.

Cost Efficiencies

On average, co-working spaces offer organizations substantial cost efficiencies of between 25%-45% in savings. This allows organizations to redirect budget to employee centric activities like wellness classes and workshops.

Co-working operators also cut down the need to source and negotiate rates with landlords, while also taking care of administrative duties like cleaning, workplace maintenance, and provide services such as IT solutions and security as well as front desk services, so companies can focus on their core business operations.

In addition to being a cost efficient alternative to long-term leasing or purchasing real estate, co-working centres offer a quick, turnkey office solution, especially in markets where permit and legal processes could take months to complete.

Community: harnessing the collaborative energy in the co-working culture

Breaking the monotony of daily tasks, co-working spaces offer an opportunity for members to shuffle between work, networking and hobbies, all within the same space. From enclosed phone cubicles for private conversations to ping pong tables, and in-house cafes – all designed to meet the evolving work and leisure needs of different personalities.

Being part of a community also offers opportunities to tap into a network of professionals to collaborate, uncover business synergies, share insights or simply expand their professional circle.

JustCo spaces are designed to facilitate this culture of interaction. Across all our centres, over 30% of space is reserved for collaboration and interaction.

Globally, the trend shows that true believers of the benefits of a connected working community. To help members truly connect, community managers design up to 700 hours of community programmes yearly giving members the opportunity to learn new skills or discuss the latest trends through talks and discussion panels, from bitcoin and chatbots to tips to launching a successful start-up. One-on-one business clinics by partners and members such as Dropbox also add value to other members by providing consultation services to meet their business needs.

Occupying over 1.5 million square feet in Singapore, co-working is no longer a trend but a force that reimagines the future of work completely, shaped by millennials, for generations to come.