DATE: 04/07/2016

Millennials don’t just want jobs – they want communities.

It’s a sentiment that’s come up a lot in the media. In 2015, Millennials became the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, according to the Pew Research Center. That’s one in three workers between the ages of 18 and 34 on the average payroll.

Survey after survey continually shows the generation that grew up on Full House reruns and text messaging, places a premium on friendship, community and a sense of purpose in the workplace (it’s not all about modern office furniture and ping-pong tables). But, from what we’ve seen, it’s not just Millennials who value these things.

Psychologists have long known that the day-to-day interactions we have with others can profoundly influence the way we feel about life. And that those who maintain a strong sense of purpose seem to do better than those who don’t.

Read the comments on those “Millennial Mania” articles and you’ll see older generations echoing the exact same wants and needs. Perhaps, it’s only now we all feel we have permission to speak up. So, what does this have to do with your office furniture?

A lot. Your workspace is the backdrop for the company culture you want to maintain. Its workstations, furniture, layout and decor ALL affect how your staff gets work done and how they feel while doing it. Which is why “setting the stage” is so important. Here are 3 ways you can begin to build a stronger sense of community in your San Antonio office:

Create Watering Holes

Though it may seem obvious, it bears mentioning: You can’t create a community if you’re not giving your employees a chance to interact beyond the occasional group meeting. This is where collaborative office design comes in.

While you don’t have to adopt a fully open workspace, you do need to create breakout areas that support conversation. Lounge furniture, miniature desk surfaces and plenty of power outlets should all be incorporated. Today’s furniture manufacturers are actually designing community-inspired furnishings at warp speed – so selection shouldn’t be a problem! The important thing?

Your watering hole needs to look inviting. If employees aren’t used to having the freedom to work from wherever in the office they choose (even if you’ve already said they can), the message might need to be reinforced with eye-catching design. Remember, employees who have friends at work, WANT to stay at work longer.

Create Shared Goals

To create a real sense of community, it’s important to make sure everyone understands their role in what the organization is working toward. Most employees genuinely want to help their employers achieve their goals when they feel valued, respected and recognized for their contributions.

Again, maintaining a collaborative workspace is great for helping everyone feel connected to the organizational mission statement. Though upper-management may very well benefit from maintaining private offices, they can strengthen employee ties by choosing to routinely work in community spaces.

Collaborative workspaces allow for consistent communication of goals, ideas and feedback between the organization as a whole. Remember, community equals regular communication between executives and staff.

Use Collaborative Software

Another great way to build a sense of camaraderie is to adopt the use of collaborative messaging software. Also called enterprise messaging solutions, these programs offer a secure, virtual area to discuss project goals, questions and progress.

Slack, Campfire and Lua are some of the more common, subscription-based programs. Beyond the pragmatic benefits offered -- not having to send 1,000 emails and seeing everything in one place – messaging software naturally lends itself to some non-work related conversations.

Such conversations are essential for building a sense of community in the workplace! Should you fear topics would veer too far off course, you can rest assured - there are solutions that only allow public communication. Don’t forget to support your collaborative software (and the mobile technology that employs it), by outfitting your office with furnishings that contain plenty of power outlets.

As you can see, choosing office furniture that supports community building is win-win for everyone. The most loyal employees are the ones who love their jobs the most. And the ones who love their jobs the most are the ones who have friends at work, feel valued and feel aligned with organizational goals.

Ready to get started on your next redesign? Contact Us for a free consultation.