There’s a lot of talk in the media about what Millennials want from their offices. However, as far as BW know, no one has asked Millennials to share their thoughts on the topic.

It is for this reason that BW decided to host an inaugural Millennials roundtable.

The discussion took place in the middle of Shoreditch at The Tramshed restaurant, with Anthony Brown the Sales & Marketing Director of BW, posing a different question between every course. Topics for discussion were: How do we know the agile office is working? What doesn’t work about the agile office? Is collaboration all it is cracked up to be?

A number of interesting points came up during the roundtable; a summary of the most prominent topics below.

Getting the measure of work

Measuring the effectiveness of an office in terms of productivity is just as difficult with agile workstyles as any other. The emphasis has therefore moved on from talking about productivity in isolation and expanded to discussions around well-being and happiness.

Culture before design?

Working environments reflect the nature of the company and play an important role in attracting and retaining talent. Millennials want choice in their working environments in terms of how and where they can work.

Continued culture of presenteeism

Managers still want to know where their staff are at all times but this doesn’t fit an agile office. How can employers easily locate the staff member they want whilst accommodating an agile office?

Does the agile office work for every industry?

There is a sense of hierarchy within certain industries which means they prefer the cellular office design rather than the open, agile offices.

Acoustics – a problem of our own making?

The agile office is not an answer to all workplace ills and there are clear although not insurmountable disadvantages to open spaces. Acoustics is often an issue, with unpredictable noise issues only becoming apparent once the space is used. Acoustics solutions can require additional costs and reorganisation.

New Etiquette Required!

Another agile office challenge is rather ironically communication. Even though we may be 10 metres from a fellow employee the temptation to email rather than getting up to have a face to face encounter – even though there is a general consensus that face to face meetings are extremely valuable and necessary. There are examples of companies shutting down email systems once a week to break this habit amongst workers.

An insightful roundtable about what Millennials thought about the legacy they will leave for the following Generation Z in terms of workplace design, culture and practise.

BW would like to thank our Millennials and look forward to challenging industry conventions in future seminars.

Becky Craddock, BW: Workplace Experts; Rachel Edwards, TP Bennett; Alison Grant, MCM; Erik Svensson, Perkins+Will; Perry Knight, Turner & Townsend; Guru Thiru, Omobono; Tom Buckley, Core Five LLP; Sarah Bryan, HLW; Margarita Ianev, BDG and Rebecca Parish, Man Bites Dog.