Evolution of the Office Culture

January 28, 2015

Most people don’t know what an office looked like in the early 1900s, unless they’ve seen Saving Private Ryan. Remember the scene in which a clerk suddenly realized just how many sons Mrs. Ryan had lost in the war? The office was open with desks evenly spaced. The commanding officer was seated behind a glass wall. That didn’t change until around the 80s when cubicles, which had been around about 20 years, went viral. The next change in offices came with the late 90s and early 00s, when open spaces came back into style. However, it is the people, whether creative or productive, working in the offices that recommend a certain style in office design.

Gen Y

For the most part, generational differences have dictated how office culture evolved. The Baby Boomer had perfect attendance, took vacations each year and did whatever it took to get the job done. This generation was focused on production but knew when to call it a day. Their fingers dialed a phone. These employees worked together in an open setting without necessarily socializing. The job got done between nine and five.

Gen X

By the time this generation began working, technology had arrived. Demands on workers’ productivity approached the point of no return. If they got a vacation, it was usually spent with a physical therapist to iron out the kinks in necks and shoulders. Time had no meaning; a task was pursued until it was done no matter the time of day or night. Cubicles became all there was. No collaboration, no socializing, and no individuality were apparent. The technology at least kept up with office demands; they could teleconference, email completed projects and collect their paycheck online.

Gen Z

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Millenials have a different agenda. Young people with young thoughts and ideas demand – and get – the best available. Many tech companies are founded by millennials. Their offices cater to creativity, a stress-free work experience and a work/life balance. Socialization and collaboration are the life-blood of their businesses. Many millennials live in complexes that include shops, restaurants, apartments, offices and parking. Clearly delineated lines exist for the millennial just like they existed for his/her Gen Y counterparts.

The Jobs

So many companies outsource work that many employees work at home. Others, due to the economic downturn in recent years, have cut back to the bone, leaving employees feeling like their knowledge and talents aren’t being utilized properly. Some businesses only exist online. Their employees have no choice but to work at home. However, many companies have brick and mortar offices.

Quite a few articles online have cheered for the office culture built around young tech companies. Their offices make use of stress-relief solutions such as game rooms, doodle walls, chef-run gourmet kitchens, cool toys, casual meeting rooms or no meeting rooms at all and so forth.

What would an insurance company in Dallas do with cool toys? Most office culture today is offering in-house health and wellness, day-care and/or pet care and flex time or some days working from home and some at the office. This office would most likely do better with the privacy of cubicles. An ad agency, however, might profit from the open space culture in which sharing knowledge and collaboration mean more creativity.

The Offices

With the introduction of some technologies, the work and how it is accomplished has changed. Today, the printer, copier and fax machines are almost obsolete due to email and sharing on smart phones, tablets and laptops. Our offices need to reflect the change in how the work is done as well as the people completing the work. Tech-savvy workers are seeking surroundings that showcase as well as foster these changes.

Whether your business is creative or productive, you’ll need to grow it in the right space. When you’re ready to lease office space, contact us. We have over 30 years of experience at matching up companies with the perfect office space.