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Generational differences as justification for the office space squeeze!

by on March 10, 2015

We have found some interesting ‘facts’ in the news about various generations during our blogging, but this one is new on me:

“the newest generation of millennial workers actually like the cramped conditions.”They don’t aspire to the big corner office,” one real estate consultant told USA Today. “They don’t even want it.”

This quote comes from a CBS article reviewing the fact that “Companies are packing them in like sardines” reporting that in 2017 the average US space per office worker is forecasted to be 151 square feet per worker, down from 176 square feet in 2012 and 225 square feet in 2010.

It appears that these generational preferences are based on assumptions about not needing to display photographs (because they are on the smartphone) and using headphones to listen to music (to drown out the noise from your close neighbours).Tracking back to the USA today article (which seems to come from the 2012 archives) this seems to relate to a study of a particular organisation, online retailing giant Zappos and an interview with a real estate agent.  I am not sure that either of these sources amounts to the evidence for a generalized claim about an attitude to office space!

To me this illustrates the dangers of using generational labels to make broad and poorly evidence claims – particularly in the new media where they are recycled and reused to support the latest findings, here on reducing office space.  Interestingly the comments in the latest CBS piece show engagement in a discussion about the need for ‘free range’ rather than ‘battery farm’ workplaces, with no mention of generational preferences.

(Written in my noisy open plan office – no headphones, no photos)

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