Bringing Working Generations Together through the Why of Work

The modern office space has changed. In the past, the demands of the vertically integrated corporation required tight coordination in both space and time, what architect, Frank Duffy calls “synchrony” and “co-location.”

The solution was the skyscraper, and later the suburban campus. But today, the workplace is not the sole location for work, but vital connection among working generations and locations where work happens. “The office is not real estate, but a communications tool,” said the CEO of Telenor, a Scandinavian telecom company.

According to Corgan’s Beth Ann Siegel who moderated Bisnow’s Houston Workplace of the Future panel, “Work is no longer a place you go, it’s a thing you do.” Workplaces no longer just provide space, they provide an experience and foster a collaborative environment. That is the future of workplace trends. It is about the “why” of work instead of just about the “where”.

Author Daniel Pink famously said in his book, Drive, that the three things that people want out of the workplace are autonomy, mastery, and purpose ( Millennials are going to work looking for a purpose, not just a job. Amenities and new technology will only go so far, but office spaces that help tenants lead mission-driven lives and help them connect with the people close to them serve businesses the best.

Now, while it may seem as though millennials are taking over everyone’s time and energy, established and more conservative tenants mustn’t feel forgotten. As millennials move into office buildings and create a mix of generations inhabiting the same space conflicts may arise making the congregation of the two groups difficult. The key is to curb this culture clash and steer it toward a more positive direction.

Openwork partner David Walker believes that managing the culture clash between millennials and more mature generations is important and necessary because, “when vastly different people come together, that’s when you get powerful mash-ups.” It doesn’t always have to be a fight between the younger generations and the older generations. “If you give people a reason to come together, you get more of the radical collisions that lead to innovation and creativity,” added Walker. In order to stand out and meet the needs of tenants, new and established, providers and managers need to build a community through programs, amenities, and the like.

Workplaces that take the initiative to establish these programs and amenities to include both working generations; trendy millennials in sneakers and t-shirts and lawyer-types decked out in suits and briefcases, are fostering innovative environments in a realistic workplace with realistic tenants. Thus, taking into account the needs and wants of each tenant instead of targeting individuals of certain generations.