What the Workplace can Learn from College Design

Smart companies seeking to hire Millennials are leveraging a unique competitive advantage based on a simple idea: Millennials are greatly influenced by how their prospective office space looks. In this post, we'll explore how you can exploit this edge and stand out from the crowd by looking to a seemingly unrelated environment: the college campus.

Many Millennials are attracted to company campus work environments that mirror the best aspects of college campus facilities. This includes everything from relaxed collaborative spaces to bright, spacious libraries offering secluded areas to study and learn.

What the Campuses Can Teach Us About Workplace Design

When you look at the flexible and adaptable learning environments on college campuses, it's no wonder that today's workers are cringing at the idea of working in a "traditional" office space.

This is why many top college graduates would rather accept a job offer from a company with a workplace that mimics the best aspects of a college campus (i.e., based on open office design principles). It feels more natural to them. These spaces are more like an extension of the college life they have gotten used to over the past 4+ years.

An Opportunity to Work Anywhere

Today's college students aren’t tied down to one spot. Thanks to highly accessible, campus-wide Wi-Fi, students can work from wherever works best for them – whether that’s open outdoor spaces or a secluded nook in a quiet library.

Unsurprisingly, they are entirely comfortable using technology. As the first truly Digital Native generation, Millennials have the highest rate of smartphone ownership.

What can we learn from this? Competitive office spaces must fully embrace the freedom to work from anywhere using mobile devices to access work information.

Natural Light and an Office with a View

Over the past couple decades, many campuses have been replacing their outdated buildings with new ones. However, instead of continuing with tightly enclosed classrooms with drop ceilings and fluorescent lighting, new facilities feature spacious learning environments with plenty of natural light and nice views to the outdoors.

To support this idea, consider this study that clearly shows that natural light helps improve our health. You may also be interested to know that natural light is a highly requested amenity according to recent surveys from Oxford Economics!

Want to design a workplace that encourages both wellness and productivity? Take notes from campus building designs and incorporate lots of natural light and views of the outdoors.

Get a Boost by Working Outside

Many students also get their studying done outside. Some campuses will even encourage this by boosting Wi-Fi signals. This is part of the growing trend toward biophilic design, which seeks to connect us with the natural world outside, even when we are working.

What can office design do in light of this? If possible, consider expanding your spaces to include outside seating areas so your employees can work and get some fresh air throughout the day!

Working Together in Collaborative Spaces

Today's campuses offer a vast selection of spaces where students can collaborate and work together as a group. These can be deliberately designed spaces in the library, lab workbenches, relaxed areas in a student lounge or even spaces outside a campus coffee shop or cafeteria. Collaboration is the core value of modern higher education spaces, and it's time for office spaces to take a cue.

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