Apparently Young People Want Office “Chill-out Zones”

chill out zone

There seems to be a really tricky situation in recruitment right now, whereby companies are complaining that young people don’t have the skills (both technical and social) to be attractive hires, and at the same time young people are complaining that companies just don’t look very good places to work.

Last year it was reported that we had a record number of new businesses; it could be that young people disgruntled with working life just up and make it on their own instead. Why morph to fit into a working culture made by previous generations when you can start alone and make the rules yourself?

But in order for our economy to keep going, we need to get employers and young people to play nicely together – which is one of the things I love looking into. As frequent readers will know, I take the less common route; instead of insisting young people fit into society, I push for society to change to fit around the next generation.

So, in order to attract their next generation of workers, what should companies be doing?

Well, according to a survey conducted by an interior design company called Dale Office, it’s “chill-out zones”. They surveyed 1000 millennials and found that the following would make them favour potential employers:

Chill-out zones

34.9%

Open-plan with collaborative workspaces

24.4%

Access to exercise facilities

16.3%

Access to recreational facilities

14.2%

Working at different stations (hot-desking)

8.5%

None of the above

0.1%

Other responses

1.4%

 

Now, the first thing I thought of when I saw the data was that these people obviously don’t know how blinking annoying hot desking is. You can’t make a desk a home if you come in and Helen is sat in your seat that you perfectly adjusted just yesterday.

But I was surprised that chill-out zones came out on top. Only larger companies would tend to have them, and the only company I can think of that had something that could be called a “chill-out zone” was the global Japanese company that I worked for when I first came back to the UK. They had a few worn-down sofas, and a ping-pong table that they regularly held matches at (which ticks the “recreational facilities”) – but this company was also ridiculously sexist and horrendous to work for.

I took to Facebook to see which of my friends worked in a place with a chill-out zone, and what this might consist of. Here are just a few of their replies:

“Rooftop balcony with a view of The Alps”

Redgate have lots of places like these, including pods where you can work alone, read or just chill. They are designed to help you find some time to yourself when you ordinarily work in an open plan area.”

I am now with a software development co. And I think a break out room is part of the deal these days, roof top terrace with BBQ. Free 20min massage each week if you book early enough. High retention rate to date.

We have a toilet…

We have a staff room? It consists of a kettle, seating, a fridge and a microwave 🙈. The only other “chill” zone I have found is the stock building next door

It was telling that one friend said that while the chill-out zones were attractive, she didn’t stay:

“When I was doing SEO, I went to work somewhere largely because it seemed very chilled and had a lovely area with sofas, and outside courtyard, fancy coffee machines etc. but when I actually sat in the sofa area to work I got told off and they said I had to sit with my “team” (team = people who had nothing to do with SEO). I left after 6 months.

So what can we learn from this? Personally, I feel that while a gorgeous office designed mindfully can attract millennials and generation Z, you really have to have the corporate culture to match. As with the last comment, if the company isn’t matching its actions with the message the office design promotes, then people will be leaving quickly.

It’s one thing to attract younger workers and it’s a completely different thing to retain them. I am quite against employers being told that by throwing beanbags and football tables in an office will attract younger workers; the next generations expect so much more than that.

Regardless, as we can see from this small survey, design does matter and so having a workspace that has been crafted to improve employees’ happiness is always a step in the right direction.

Over to you! Does your workplace have a chill-out zone? Would a lack of one cause you to look over a job opportunity there? Let me know in the comments!

Comments

  1. Interesting that open plan offices also came up high. I regularly read Ask A Manager and woes regarding open-plan offices come up regularly. http://www.askamanager.org/2018/02/how-can-i-avoid-taking-a-job-in-an-open-plan-office.html

    I’m not sure how I feel about ‘chill out zones’. I’m in education so I guess that’s the teacher lounge/department office / any place that is not technically our classroom. To my mind it seems a bit infantalising but on the other hand it does look like a nice place to pass a lunch break.

    • Charlotte says:

      I’m not sure about open office plans either. we have one at the university and it’s great to see that even directors are sat there on the shop floor with us, but also there are some really loud people so it can be distracting.

      • I guess it’s a case of what are you hoping to facilitate by having an open plan office? Is the communication and collaboration so integral to your work that having people in separate rooms is causing problems? Or are you just piling on an open place because it’s apparently trendy and someone went to a workshop once about it?

  2. I haaaaate open office plans. I don’t mind cubicles, as long as the walls are high enough to block sound from your colleagues.

    My experience working for a Japanese company also includes a ping-pong table. I wonder if that’s really common, or just a strange coincidence.

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