• Raleigh

How the Changing Workforce Impacts Office Space Density

 By Daniel Flynn, Research Analyst


As the composition of our workforce changes, the space we work in has adapted to meet the needs of today’s users. According to analysis from the Pew Research Center, Millennials now make up more than one-third of the workforce, and surpassed Gen Xers as the largest generation in the workforce in early 2015. Millennials, and the upcoming group of centennials, have different expectations for how they want to work compared with previous generations. This shift in preferences is evident through drastic changes in workplace strategies, most notably, a reduction from 260 SF to 180 SF per employee over the past 25 years.

Millennials have changed the way companies recruit, retain, and deploy top talent. As we approach the end of the decade, the first of the Centennial generation (late 90s to mid-2010s) will be graduating from college causing further disruption in the workplace. As a result, companies will look further into their real estate strategies in an effort to position themselves as a top choice for talent. Some projections estimate an average of 150 SF per employee by 2020. These projections shrink even lower in high cost cities where companies are desperate to reduce costs.

The evolving workforce prefers a different kind of environment, according to Cushman & Wakefield Vice President, Jeff Stephens, “physical workspaces are still key, but must act as a hub of interaction. Non-traditional, well-connected, high- tech, and collaborative space are all necessary components to accommodate the range of workstyle the new workforce aspires to.”

Key Drivers

Technology Inter-connected employees use technologies like video conferencing and cloud storage to meet virtually and access documents. This reduces the need for formal meeting space, physical storage, and promotes organizational agility.

Mobility Policies that allow employees flexible work hours and location options, coupled with remote access technology, creates an employee on the move- working from home, coffee shops, and even while traveling. Less employees in the office creates less need for all of those desk spaces. According to Deloitte’s 2016 millennial survey, 75% of respondents desired the option to work from home. By 2020, approximately 72% of the workforce will have the technology to do some work remotely.

Hoteling With an increasingly mobile workforce, dedicated desks are becoming less important. For example, financial services firm Citigroup has established an office per person standard of 0.7:1. Employees use dynamic scheduling to float to available workspaces when working in the office.

Battle for Talent Office strategies that promote cross-collaboration and innovation are highly valued by millennials. Open floor plans, ping pong tables, and co-working spaces create fun, transparent office environments that attract top-notch talent.


Click here to download our infographic in your web browser.

Sources: Allermuir, Cushman and Wakefield Research, Pew Research Center, Deloitte

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© 2019 Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.