In just a few years, it’s estimated that almost half of U.S. workers will be made up of Millennials and that is projected to grow to 75% by 2025, which means everyone will be vying for this segment of the workforce.

If an organization wants to have the advantage over their competitors when it comes to recruiting and employee retention, one way is to build an office and office environment that is suited to their likes and needs. The workplace needs to appeal to the underlying workplace themes that the millennial generation has adopted: Functionality, user configurability, and honesty of materials.
According to research on the future of the workplace design, the features Millennials are interested in having in their offices include open, airy designs that are modern and well lit. Industrial or urban setting are preferred with open brickwork, high ceilings and natural materials like wood, concrete, metal and stone.

Ubiquitous technology is a basic requirement, and wireless is assumed, thereby freeing the floorplate design from the rigid confines of the placement of network drops. This barrier removed, the furniture selection expands to include systems and components that allow options, and flooring and ceiling preferences tend to be more aligned with form following function.

While research shows that people still want their own assigned workspace, and they prefer an open-plan office space where they can sit with their team. They desire a less formal or hierarchical organization, and a workplace that reflects and supports a flattened structure; a space that enables a more collaborative environment.

Many of the top tech companies are leading the way for others by creating a unique and fun workspace as they vie for the best programmers and creative business professionals. According to Rich Jordan a partner at eBusiness Strategies an enterprise workplace consulting firm, “the quintessential millennial workplace has the ‘startup’ look and feel, functional freestanding furniture that is easily reconfigured by the occupants as teams form and morph as the work changes. Dropped ceilings are an artifact of the past, giving way to the exposed ducting and higher ceiling volumes allowing sunlight to penetrate deeper into the space, and crisp polished concrete floors that reference the bare floors of the garage where so many startups originate, and at the same time set aside the tired look of dingy institutional carpet for a clean, modern vibe.”

Michael Price, CEO of Bay Area-based PolishedCrete says building owners, especially commercial but also retail are amongst the biggest drivers of the rapid growth in polished concrete flooring options. “We’re seeing growth in every building segment, for example, you’ll find plenty of PolishedCrete in the new (San Francisco) 49ers stadium. Aesthetics are a big factor but so are environmental benefits and we can certainly help people advance their LEEDs certification. But money is the biggest factor many times and commercial building owners are finding that a building that is appealing to millennial’s on many levels is a lot easier to lease to clients.”

The explosive growth in stained and polished concrete flooring in offices is evidence of how organizations are making big environmental changes without spending a lot of money. With a new floor, or more accurately, a refurbishment of an old floor, combined with an open seating environment, lighting elements and urban wall treatments, organizations are finding big changes in culture and workflow can be achieved without a lot of expense.

Of course this is just setting the right environment; the organizations management must embrace culture change and changes in workplace policies and politics as well to effect real change.