How Millennials are Redefining the Tenant Experience in Commercial Buildings

February 18, 2020

In 2016, the millennial generation (defined by Pew Research as anyone born between 1981 and 1996) became the largest generation in the workforce. They spent their 20s with smartphones in their pockets and witnessed the explosion of mobile apps, and their preferences and habits are causing facilities managers and building owners to rethink how they cater to the tenant experience.

Why the Tenant Experience is Changing

Millennials are changing the face of work life. This includes adding onsite amenities like gyms and coffee shops, adding flex spaces, and how owners incorporate technology in their properties. There’s also the density of employees in open offices, which has an impact on available parking.

Photo: Open office space design

Previous generations had an expectation of getting their own office, or at least the largest cubicle available, often resulting in expansive 8-by-8-foot cubicles. Employers leased larger spaces to accommodate the expectations of their executives when it came to physical space. Millennials are more accepting of open, communal, compact floor plans, often working side by side at long tables.

Over the years, the square foot of space per office worker has decreased, so employers can save money with a generation that seems to expect to work without the trappings or perks of large offices or cubicles.

How the Tenant Experience is Changing

Having a smaller footprint per person has affected the facility and property in a number of ways.

Work spaces: Between the increasing number of millennial employees telecommuting and the rest being accustomed to compact floor plans, employers no longer need to lease such a large space for their staff. Additionally, employees are moving away from using large computers, printers and fax machines to smaller lightweight laptops, reducing each employee’s space requirements while allowing work to be done at shared tables.

Elevators: For building owners, there are more people in their buildings in the same amount of office space, which impacts things like their elevator system as well as parking. For example, with more people heading to their offices, especially high-rise buildings, there becomes a bigger need for destination dispatch systems that groups passengers for the same destinations into the same elevators, to reduce waiting and travel times.

Parking garages: Parking also becomes an issue, because parking garages that accompany office buildings were built when the offices held fewer people. Now with more people working in a building than the garage was designed for, property managers are hiring full-time security personnel and valets for garages to park employee vehicles at offsite locations.

Access controls:  As the first generation that grew up with the internet, millennials are also a tech savvy group. Many have been using mobile apps for years. The idea of carrying multiple keycards for office access is not well aligned with their expectations of frictionless, on-demand experiences. Not to mention, as a more environmentally aware generation than Generation X or baby boomers, carrying an abundance of different plastic cards with them is not ideal.

For this mobile app generation, pulling out a keycard or fob to enter their office, conference room or gym seems antiquated. Going to a business meeting in another often requires waiting in line, having a security person check through a list for your name, and then digging out a driver’s license or ID to prove your identity. Millennials are also part of a global workforce, so there can be language and cultural barriers for checking in to buildings globally, which causes further frustrations.

As businesses like law firms and financial service firms want more frictionless experiences for their millennial-age clientele who are used to mobile, real-time experiences, mobile building access apps will become more common to make a good first impression for clients entering their office.

Food and package deliveries: Additionally, this generation of tech savvy app aficionados are using third-party vendors for food deliveries coming to their office every day at lunchtime. 

As food delivery apps become the norm for grabbing lunch, office building lobbies can become busy with food delivery people trying to check in and bring lunch at the same time. Some office buildings are experimenting with setting up a separate area in the lobby for food delivery drop-offs so entry into the building is not interrupted and security check-ins are not bypassed.

Others are considering issuing visitor credentials for food delivery people so check-in goes faster. But it’s clear a more permanent solution is needed, since food deliveries are not the only drop-off to manage.

Many building and office lobbies were not designed to have package rooms, so building managers are looking at package delivery methods, and will need to think about how to possibly incorporate these kinds of options for their tenants.

A Lasting Impact

Whether it’s managing online deliveries, adapting buildings and parking garages to accommodate more people, or making access more mobile, less cumbersome and millennial-friendly, it is clear this generation and its fast adoption of all things technology will have a lasting impact on how building owners and facilities managers need to meet the needs of their tenants.

About the Author:

Kellen DukeKellen Duke is the Head of Deployments and Security with Proxy. Before Proxy, Kellen worked on the Global Security teams for both Uber and WeWork.

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About the author
Kellen Duke