Just What Makes a Workplace “Millennial-Friendly”?

by | 23 May 2016

There’s no shortage of insight regarding the Millennial population. In the CRE industry, we continue to search for the key drivers in today’s workplace that are most attractive to this group. As the largest working demographic, we need to pay close attention to what interests them. So, I reached out to one of the most trusted architects in Princeton, NJ to get her insider’s perspective.

Marlyn Zucosky is Director of Interior Design at JZA+D, where she has been partner since 2013. Marlyn manages all interior design projects from concept through construction and brings more than 25 years of experience in commercial office, education, hospitality, retail and residential interiors.

Workspaces That Attract Millennials: Five Pillars

What do Millennials want in a workplace? At JZA+D, we’ve learned that providing a space that offers combined aspects of home, hospitality, and work helps our newest generation of adults be more productive. These days, our Millennial-friendly workplace design philosophy is based on these five “pillars”:

  1. Food Amenities

Due to the digital and social media they’ve grown up with, Millennials tend to blend work and personal time. Work isn’t strictly a 9-5 job any more, with a set hour out for lunch; instead, teams see lunch as another opportunity to collaborate in the office. Clients are asking us to design pantries and kitchens as open hubs for interaction, with eating and socializing taking place at the heart of the office, rather than being an enclosed, tucked-away function.

  1. Game Room

Millennials work hard and play hard, and the luckiest of them get to mix work and play, quite literally! We’re increasingly aware that simply sitting all the time is not healthy, so to help keep all generations of workers well, we build in activity. Progressive companies foster “active design,” for example, by locating printers a healthy walk away from people’s workstations. And on one recent project, we were asked to design a game room with a pool table and a Wii system  to up the activity level for fun-loving Millennials.

  1. Mobile Bar

Inspired by the food carts that so many urban Millennials frequent, this “moveable feast”—a bar cart stocked with healthy beverages, fruit, maybe energy bars—makes the rounds to remind workers that it’s a time to take a break.

  1. Relaxation Room

According to demographic studies (and my own parenting experience), Millennials crave constant activity, even while working. JZA+D has learned how to design offices that create this exciting hubbub, while still providing a level of acoustical smoothing by incorporating white noise and other sound-masking techniques. Nevertheless, it’s popular among our clients to provide a separate space, a dedicated quiet room for relaxing, where people can go to take a break, stretch or meditate.

  1. Collaboration Space

We’ve learned from our Millennial coworkers that collaboration can happen in a variety of ways, not just around a conference table! Thanks to technological innovations like laptops and wifi, we’re free from cables and giant monitors and can collaborate in many different types of space. So, we create “huddle” rooms or spaces and lounge areas with furnishings ranging from low, soft seating to the increasingly popular bar-height countertops where people can gather standing or perching on stools, sometimes viewing a screen at one end of the counter.

Not Just for Millennials?

Many companies who don’t have room within their own suites for “Millennial amenities” still want to provide quality break space for their employees. Right now, we’re doing about half-a-dozen projects for developers who are converting older buildings and adding amenities into the building common area that attract Millennials—and also attract the companies that employ them. For these buildings, we’re designing new central food-service facilities, as well as gyms and fitness centers, and shared conference facilities.

At a time when many firms are right-sizing their own private quarters for a more mobile workforce—reducing the sizes of offices and other work areas—shared amenity space, in either the suite or the building, attracts highly sought-after employees, and makes them even more productive.


The information contained herein has been obtained from sources deemed reliable. While every reasonable effort has been made to ensure its accuracy, we cannot guarantee it. No responsibility is assumed for any inaccuracies. Readers are encouraged to consult their professional advisors prior to acting on any of the material contained in this report.

Based in Princeton, N.J., Vinny specializes in tenant and landlord representation for Colliers International, working directly with his clients in the acquisition and disposition of office space. For more commercial real estate insight and trends, follow Vinny on Twitter.