29 June 2011, London – Colliers International analysed the motivations and behaviours of Generation Y to understand the way in which they work and would increasingly like to work and the resulting implications for the real estate market.

Flexibility is the underlying theme of the findings with work-life balance a significant source of motivation. The need for flexibility to suit the demands of family and social life is a major factor driving employment choices, pushing organisations towards offering flexible alternative working strategies. This does not mean that the workplace will become redundant. In fact, we believe quite the opposite will occur. Given the pressure on companies to attract Generation Y staff, it is important that the workplace has the right blend of social/fun space that Generation Y can positively identify with. In locations where there is real pressure on housing in terms of cost/choice, this dynamic is likely to be even more pronounced, pushing the requirement for companies to ensure staff have their own ‘private space’ at work.

“This generation has grown up in a world surrounded by modern information technology and rapid technological change,” says Damian Harrington, Regional Director, Research and Consulting for Colliers International, “They expect to have the flexibility to work remotely.”

The impact upon office space will be seen in four key areas:

1. More efficient use of ‘workspace’ combined with more ‘fun/social space’ in the office environment. This equates to much higher working densities of sqm per person, but countered by a greater proportion of internal ‘social/fun’ space.

2. An overall reduction in the total volume of office space required, but not as much as higher workspace densities would suggest. While a shift from 12 sqm per person to 8 sqm per person is not uncommon, this does not mean that there will be an overall reduction in demand of one third. ‘Fun/social space’ is required.

3. A much greater need for flexibility in the use of space, with implications for the underlying structure, technological platform and management of buildings.

4. Space which genuinely conforms to sustainability standards – be it LEED®, BREEAM or an alternative – will become a must have. In particular, energy efficiency will be a critical component of meeting demand.

“Generation Y are constantly looking for new challenges and generally change jobs every 1-2 years. This presents a real challenge for companies to retain their best staff,” says Guy Douetil, EMEA Head of Corporate Solutions for Colliers International, “The physical office space and working environment can significantly enhance a company’s employer brand and attract top talent.”

The Colliers International Generation Y white paper is the first in a series of reports exploring the different aspects of how Generation Y will impact the real estate market.