Is your company prepared for the millennials?

Vice President CBRE Spain

«Millennials have a different outlook on work. The work environment needs to be adapted»

Millennials, those born in the 80s and 90s, are revolutionising the way in which we make purchases and communicate and, in general, are bringing about a profound change in our society. They are much more connected and technologically adept, and their priorities are not the same as those of the baby boom generation. Owning a house or a car, for example, is no longer a priority matter. Specifically, for them it is no longer necessary to ‘have’ so much as to ‘experience’. When it comes to consuming, issues such as sustainability or social responsibility, for example, are increasingly regarded as essential.

In view of this new climate, we are witnessing how companies are changing their marketing and advertising strategies, seeking to attract a generation which, in short, is much more restless than their predecessors. However, the work environment also needs to be adapted: millennials already form part of our companies and are beginning to hold positions of responsibility. And just as they have different consumption habits, they also have different ways of working and another outlook on work, something that companies need to understand and implement if they want to attract and retain the best talent.

Change of priorities

The main characteristic of the millennials is most likely that they ‘do not marry’ companies. For them, a job is useful as long as it is something that is personally fulfilling, motivates them and allows them to learn and face new challenges. If expectations are not met, they do not hesitate to leave in search of a better alternative. Salary is no longer the main reason to choose one job over another, but rather it becomes just another factor in an equation that also takes into consideration aspects such as flexibility, schedule, surroundings and work environment, as well as other intangible aspects such as innovative character, image, etc.

Specifically, in accordance with a CBRE report, one out of every three companies places attracting and retaining talent as one of its main concerns, a figure that increases to 71% in the case of companies in cutting-edge sectors such as the telecommunications sector.

New ways of working

Luckily, technology is on our side. With a mobile telephone and a laptop with Internet connection we are able to carry out our work from virtually any location. We have been liberated from the need to be tied to a single location in the office and this provides the highly valued flexibility demanded by the millennials generation.

It is about implementing new ways of working, something that we have pioneered here at CBRE. We already analysed this innovative system in our 2012 Trends Report, revealing one of the first cases developed in Spain: ours. When we moved our offices from Castellana 200, we decided to make a commitment to flexibility and eliminate fixed positions and assigned offices. We are moving towards an environment where employees decide whether or not to work from home (or another location) or at the office, in which case employees can choose where they sit based on the work being carried out at that time.

«With a mobile telephone and a laptop with Internet connection we are able to carry out our work from any location»

Top-down Changes

The result? Our productivity has increased by more than 30%. The offices are designed with the employee at the centre and allow for a better work environment and, consequently, greater motivation and satisfaction, which has allowed us to obtain this magnificent result.

More than 400 companies interested in implementing this model have visited our offices since then, and we are seeing an increasing number of companies using this model, such as Xerox, BBVA or PwC. But to be able to carry this out, the involvement of management is essential; the change needs to come from above: company management must drive this process in order to have a real and effective impact. It is clear that not all companies are the same or have the same needs and these ways of working are not applicable across all sectors.

An in-depth study therefore needs to be carried out, not only analysing the occupied space and the company’s needs, but also carrying out interviews with employees, in order to be able to design a solution that is truly effective. In addition, a gradually implemented change management programme allows a pilot group to be established first in order to test the change and identify key points, and then this change can be transferred to the rest of the organisation.

This model causes employees not only to be more satisfied but also more efficient. When fixed positions are eliminated, paperwork is digitalized, since the table needs to be left clean at the end of the workday, which substantially reduces paper consumption. Accordingly, this solution of highly flexible occupancy allows the workforce to be increased without needing to contract more square metres, since each employee does not need to be assigned to an office.

Integral Service

«The acquisition of the workspace management area of Johnson Controls, GWS, has consolidated our leadership»

At CBRE we are experts at providing the most appropriate advisory services adapted to each case, accompanying companies throughout the entire process. In fact, the acquisition of the workspace management area of Johnson Controls, Global Workplace Solutions (GWS), has consolidated our leadership. GWS counts about 16,000 employees worldwide, 350 in Spain.

As a result of this integration, CBRE is able to provide a truly comprehensive service, which offers our customers the entire range of Real Estate services, including the lease and sale of properties, project management, as well as construction, technical engineering, consulting and even maintenance services, among others.

The experience that we have from managing 5 billion square feet of non-residential Real Estate assets throughout the world is now joined by our knowledge of technical engineering, supply chain management, critical facilities and other GWS capabilities.

Space Management

This acquisition will also allow us to create an innovation laboratory to develop a new generation of solutions for workspaces that will help our customers reach their objectives.

The demand for services that entail comprehensive guidance in all phases and stages of a property is increasing and, in fact, this is an essential element in order to be able to compete in the current environment. Within this service, space management is increasingly taking on a more important role as an element for attracting and retaining talent. Is your company prepared for the millennials?


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Vice President CBRE Spain