Millennials Driving New Management Styles

By Jeri Denniston, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International

Takeaways: Millennials are driving new trends in management and productive work space. Companies are downsizing into open space environments and flexible work schedules enabling staff to work from anywhere at any time in collaborative, bee hive types of space.

Much has been written lately about the trends in management style and office space. This is being driven by the new young turks, the Millennials, who are moving into management positions.

For them, the old management styles of top-down leadership or management by objectives just don’t ring true. Instead, they want to get to know their team members, become friends, and learn what motivates them. This is an entirely new style of leadership that requires active listening and asking questions.

The result is a model called, Holacracy, where clear communications, incentives and accountability are key components to keeping staff motivated and engaged. See the article, How Medium is Building a New Kind of Company, which was published in firstround.com. Rather than a hierarchy of workers, the organization is built around a hierarchy of work that needs to be achieved.

Unlike their predecessors, the Millennial generation is all about collaboration, not building “turf kingdoms”. Consequently, many don’t have private offices, but prefer to be out in the main room at a desk with their teams. In fact, many teams are fluid, forming and re-forming around projects rather than departments. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t even have an office. He and other senior execs sit with everyone else, although they do have private conference rooms assigned for their use when needed.

So what are the implications?

Traditional office spaces are being converted into open spaces where everyone has a desk with or without any dividers. Some have half cubicles separating the desks; others place people side by side and across from one another. While the workers like this kind of environment because it’s more casual and family-like, research is showing that productivity has declined due to distractions and noise. In order to concentrate, workers check out time in private offices or conference rooms and use sound-cancelling headphones.

Open offices - Miamishared.com. See this photo gallery of office space designs from Miamishared.com

Open offices – Miamishared.com See this photo gallery of office space designs from Miamishared.com

The result is that many companies are reducing their office space requirements. Open areas require fewer build outs and less square footage. Additionally, companies have moved to flexible work programs allowing staff to work from anywhere at any time. So they may rent desks at open space places called “bee hives” for use when their workers need to go into an office to work vs. working from home or elsewhere. These shared work spaces appeal to the ever mobile Millennials and to start-ups, giving them access to other professionals with whom to network.

In her article in Forbes, Open Spaces are Here to Stay. Now How Do We Get Any Work Done?,  Barbara T Armstrong cites the many implications these trends are having on furniture design, as well as workplace design specialists. Time will tell how successful these new environments are for engendering productivity.