From digital transformation and sustainability initiatives to collaborative layouts and flexible work arrangements — Millennials have spent the past decade driving change in the design and culture of the workplace. Now, as older members of Gen Z have started entering the workforce, they’re shaking things up in a big way, too. 

It’s no surprise. Every generation that enters the workforce brings its own set of values and expectations, and companies have always had to adjust. Attracting Baby Boomers meant offering job security. When Generation X arrived, companies needed to provide not only a clear path for career progress but also work-life balance. Generation Z wants to work for companies with flexible work models and solid support for sustainability initiatives.  

When it comes to office design and layout, then, what can companies do to attract and retain Millennials and Gen Z?  What do younger employees want from the workplace? 

Millennials and Gen Z are already a large part of the workforce 

As of 2024, the number of millennial employees had already surpassed both Gen X and the Baby Boomer generation. In fact, according to recent studies, the two currently make up about 38% of the global workforce, and that number is set to rise to about 58% by 2030.  

They’re a large part of the workforce, and likely a large part of your company’s future success, too. Today, over half of working Millennials are managing teams and making important business decisions. They are the ones driving purpose-driven cultures and contributing creative ideas that take their companies above their competitors, so you want them on your payroll. 

To attract and retain the younger generations of employees in the workforce — the innovative employees your company needs — you must understand what they want in terms of office design and culture. 

When others resisted, Millennials pushed forward to ensure the connection between the company’s performance, people, systems, and devices in the workplace. They focused on bridging gaps in data, leveraging automation, and the addition of emerging technologies such as conference room software and wayfinding apps. 

And then in unexpected ways, the changes they brought had profound effects on business. 

How digital natives helped reshape the workplace 

The pandemic happened so rapidly that digital transformation was less of an opportunity and more of a harrowing need to respond. The unprepared had to rapidly boost their digital infrastructure and make an immediate shift to remote working arrangements. In the aftermath, those who had high connectivity between company culture, tools, and people already had a significant advantage. Organizations that valued agility and were already positioned to act quickly and intelligently were uniquely prepared. And those who didn’t found themselves scrambling to respond. 

Companies that had already embraced the types of innovation and agility loved by Millennials and Generation Z were able to avoid, or at least reduce, disruptions. 

Does Gen Z care about office design? 

They do, and it’s because they’re more likely to be there. According to Nick Bloom, an expert on remote work and economics professor at Stanford University, that generation is even more likely than Millennials to want to go to the office.  

Gen Z has “…high returns to professional networking, on-the-job training, and mentoring — activities that benefit greatly from in-person interactions. Young workers may also place more value on socializing at the workplace or nearby. They are more likely to live in small or shared apartments, which reduces the appeal of work from home,” Bloom explains 

Office design for Millennials and Gen Z in 2024 

If you want to provide an environment and culture that motivates your current and future millennial and Gen Z employees, here’s what you need to think about when updating your office design. 

Empower collaboration 

As the number of Millennials and Gen Z employees has grown, new office design trends should become even more of a priority for companies looking to attract and retain top talent. Closed-up cubes and corner offices prevent collaboration and the flow of information, and Millennials like working with, sharing ideas, and learning from others. 

Younger employees want nothing to do with the beige walls, uninspired meeting spaces, and fluorescent lighting. Break away from the traditional office layout and invest in a more collaborative floor plan. Remember that physical barriers quickly become creative barriers. You can’t brainstorm with colleagues through cubicle walls.  

Update your office design with a variety of spaces, add creative artwork, and increase the amount of natural light. Upgrading the conference room scheduling software in meeting rooms makes it much easier for employees to find the spaces they need to connect with colleagues.  

Bring in furniture that accommodates a variety of work styles: adjustable-height desks, so employees don’t have to sit all day, and maybe a few yoga balls to replace traditional office chairs. Freestanding dividers like bookshelves or even plant “walls” can help your introverted employees who might struggle to focus in a completely open work area. 

Be sure there are plenty of conference rooms of varying sizes in your more open office design. Although an open layout helps promote collaboration among employees, it also means that an employee’s individual workspace is no longer a good place to hold private meetings or videoconferences with coworkers or business partners who are remotely located. 

Embrace technology 

Millennials and Gen Z like their own way of doing things. They want freedom of choice and devices that make striking a work-life balance easier. So, besides an open office design layout and adjustable furniture that allows for more flexibility, adopt the latest worktech technologies to better support the employee experience. 

Millennials have a mobile and tech-forward mindset, which means they’re comfortable with — and have come to expect — convenient tools such as conference room scheduling software for booking meeting rooms. These tools work on mobile devices, making it easy for employees to search for and book meeting rooms that fit their needs. 

In fact, an efficient digital workspace benefits workers of any generation. Older generations might have less lifetime experience with tech than their digital nomad coworkers, but they benefit just as much from being able to reserve spaces in the office.  

Value what they value 

Another common theme among Millennials is a desire to work for an employer who values health and wellness and recognizes their need for a better work-life balance. They spend long hours at the office working, but they also value maintaining their own health and wellness. Including a gym or wellness program is not only an increasingly common office trend. It’s also the perfect way to show your potential and current employees you value them — by valuing what they value. 

With user-friendly ways to efficiently navigate the office, greet a visiting client, book a desk ahead of time, or use conference room scheduling software to instantly find a meeting room — your millennial employees will be more engaged and productive. 

How can you align Gen Z culture with office design 

Millennials are about three times more likely to change jobs than employees from other generations. Not only does that lead to high recruitment costs, but it also results in productivity losses among other intangible costs — which is why retention is an important part of overall success. Employee engagement reduces turnover, saving you time and money. 

Here’s the takeaway: Millennial and Gen Z employees will continue to guide progress within your organization. They’re driven by the desire to make things more efficient and connected. They’re also well-known for their part in helping their organizations establish and maintain a competitive edge. By designing office space to best match their values, goals, and work styles, you can attract and retain the best current and future leaders. 

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Jonathan writes about asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions in his role as a digital content creator at Eptura. He covers trends across industries, including fleet, manufacturing, healthcare, and hospitality, with a focus on delivering thought leadership with actionable insights. Earlier in his career, he wrote textbooks, edited NPC dialogue for video games, and taught English as a foreign language. He hold a master's degree in journalism.