Most Ventura office tenant improvements today are in response to the shrinking desk spaces of the millennial office…

It’s called the millennial office and it’s driving not just Ventura office tenant improvements, but office build-outs and retrofits throughout the country. Today’s ideal office is a wide-open communal workspace that looks more like a coffee shop than a traditional office. Gone are huge desks and rows and rows of file cabinets. In their place are work bars, couches, lounge chairs, and community desks with benches. Ear buds, not cubicle partitions, act as sound barriers. If there are cubicle partitions, they’re short and not as isolating as yesterday’s cubicle farm. This allows for more interaction and collaboration. Also gone are private corner offices and boardrooms.

An Employee’s Workspace Has Become His or Her Laptop

An obvious consequence of this millennial office is the shrinking average square footage needed per employee. According to CoreNet Global – a commercial real estate association, the average square footage per employee in 2012 was 176 square feet. That was a significant dropoff from 225 square feet in 2010. Although more recent data is unavailable, many companies are now only allotting 120 square feet to each employee today. In the coming years, it’s anticipated that the average space needed per worker will drop to less than 100 square feet.

The laptop has essentially become an employee’s workspace. It’s where all the programs and apps they need to carry out their day-to-day work reside – meaning they no longer need a desktop PC. They can call and talk to people using their smartphone – meaning they no longer need a desktop phone. Their laptop has their family photos – meaning they no longer need a desk or cubicle walls for family pictures. All of their work files are also on their laptop – meaning they no longer need file cabinets.

Some Employers, To Save a Buck, Are Jamming People Into Less Space

With rents surging throughout the country, many companies see the above as reason enough to trim personal space and save costs. They’re moving into new workspaces that are 20 to 25 percent smaller than the office they’re moving from to avoid paying higher rents. Smaller but smarter offices are now the trend.

While it’s true that a much smaller space can now accommodate more workers, it also means that workers are being shoehorned to fit into tighter spaces. This means everyone is basically “all up in” everyone else’s business. There’s little to no privacy. In fact, some employees in offices today have as little as 95 feet of square footage of their own. This is one reason baby boomers, Gen X’ers, and even some millennials aren’t as keen on communal workspaces as they once were.

That said, just like the digital age, the wide-open office space is here to stay. What’s likely to occur is employers will notice millennials gravitating more to companies with offices spacious enough for not just a communal/collaborative environment, but other “activity rooms” as well. For instance, in place of private corner offices and stuffy boardrooms are coffee bars, fitness rooms, nap rooms, gaming console areas, and other comforts and perks geared towards making millennials happy at work. Refuge rooms, where employees can retreat for some privacy or quiet, have also become popular.

What This Means to Owners of Office Space or Buildings

Anyone renting or leasing an office space to a prospective tenant needs to understand that the millennial office is real. Those looking for a laidback, relaxed, open and airy collaborative environment need to know you can accommodate this. Flexible open floor plans with abundant natural light are becoming the norm, not the exception.

However, there are far too many office spaces that still look like a carryover from the cubicles of the 80s and 90s or the set of the TV series The Office. Office tenant improvements can update and repurpose these spaces for today’s tenant.

Unless you want an empty space, it’s imperative that you hook up with a general contractor or construction company that specializes in office tenant improvements. Especially if you own a space with a lot of square footage, as considerable updating must be done to turn the isolating private offices and drab boardrooms of yesterday into the kind of activity rooms millennials appreciate. The amenities will be what keeps companies in more spacious offices despite the shrinking work desks of the millennial office.