How to meet the expectations of millennial employees to keep them engaged in the workplace?

How can a senior HR manager resolve the contradictory desires of employees for remote work, meeting and focus all at the same time?

One of the biggest dilemmas of most senior HR managers is to satisfy the seemingly contradictory desires of employees, especially millennials. They want to be more flexible, be able to work from anywhere, yet at the same time they desire more meaningful interactions with one another. They want more interactions and collaboration, but also more focus and concentration – all at the same time. How can you make sure that all these needs are met? Is it even possible?

At AKKA, we believe it is. We believe that it does not have to be either/or, because all these seemingly contradictory desires can be traced to one single value: interactions. There are different types of interactions and interactions can be of varying degrees of intensity. Interactions include individual focused time as well as collaborative work. If you design your workplace specifically towards fostering better interactions, then you can have it all. By creating the right workplace, you give people the choice and control to choose the setting they need at any given time based on their personality, mood and the type of work they need to do.

Workplace at KIT Tropical Institute in Amsterdam designed by AKKA Architects

There is a wide range of spectrum of needs employees have during their workday and it is crucial to understand those needs in order to increase effectiveness, both on the individual and collaborative levels. A great resource for this is Herman Miller’s Modes of Work research1, which helps organisations understand these needs. At AKKA, we understand the wide spectrum of needs and design the workspace accordingly. In order to understand the specific needs inside a given organisation, we first engage with the users of the space (in this case, the employees of all teams and levels).

Second, we (re-)design the workspace, specifically to serve and accommodate for the needs, values and vision of the users. Then, once the third phase of design development and construction is over, our work as architects  – unlike most architecture studios – is not over. We do not consider the ‘completed’ project complete and so we enter into the fourth and final phase of our process, the adapting phase. This happens when the space is ready enough for people to move in and start using it. Once people are inhabiting the space, we rely on observation of behaviour, patterns, frictions and added value in order to make the final refinements and adjustments in the workplace. These final refinements are minor however crucial, they are the details that make the difference.

workplace millennials architects design
workplace millennials architects design

The workplace can – and ought to – be designed in a way to meet the seemingly contradictory desires of employees. Your workplace is a strategic tool and you can now maximise the return of this asset. Make sure to hire an architecture studio that understands the importance of interactions in the workplace and takes the time to investigate and understand them, and you will be able to have a workplace that answers all needs of employees, no matter how contradictory they may seem.

When employees are offered choice and a sense of control, they are happier, perform better and stay in the organisation longer.

Are you interested in learning more about our philosophy behind the workplace and how you as an HR professional, can meet the expectations of your teams, retain them and engage them? Download here the book The Power of Interactions and get the principles and practice to align and engage anyone.

Align and Engage your entire workforce to achieve massive growth in your Organisation.


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“We would like to express our gratitude for the time you invested in helping us get to a clear picture.  Anna and I really appreciated the call we had with you, your responsiveness, and the great empathy that you exhibited throughout – we certainly felt very “well taken care of” when engaging with you.  On the practical side, we especially appreciated that there was the option to obtain robust bottom-up cost estimates for the construction itself (not every design architect offers this).”

-Private Client of AKKA



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