Written in collaboration with Free Office Finder.
This year, I considered moving to a new place of work. After four years of teaching English in a secondary school, my career had stagnated, whereas almost all the fellow teachers I’d trained with were landing promotions. Quite frankly, I was fed up and dabbled in the idea of opening my own tuition centre from scratch, but had no idea how to start. In search of a promotion, I visited a local school with not one, but two potential job openings. Both were offering a substantial pay rise. Truthfully, it was a brilliant opportunity for my future but something wasn’t right.
Research by online office agency www.freeofficefinder.com, showed that millennials like me are more concerned with the comfort of their office environment than other generations before us. A huge 33% of millennials surveyed put more focus on their environment, and honestly, I’m not shocked. We employees between the ages of 23 and 38 know that despite our futile attempts to stop it, our workplace becomes an extension of our home. In comparison to previous generations, we likely spend more of our waking life in our office than our lounge so why should we not expect some element of comfort and luxury from our workplace?
I quickly realised that that was what the school was missing. If I were to apply for those jobs, I would be moving to a workplace with a dingy cupboard for an office, no desktop computer in my classroom, and no communal lunches. I would be leaving behind a large, airy office space with computers, a dining table and kitchen. A space designated for English staff alone. I’d be leaving behind the classroom I had lovingly decorated. It was a place I had made my own after three years. I realised that sometimes, the grass is greener where you are.
I couldn’t bring myself to leave.
As this decade comes to an end, we millennials are the driving force of business, building empires from almost nothing. We are the entrepreneurs, innovators, developers, who spend hours, sometimes well in to the night, on projects and presentations; we just can’t work in a space that’s uninspiring. We look for open plan, naturally lit environments; we like fresh flowers and tasteful decor; we want clean, functional facilities; we need adequate transport links and parking spaces. Of course, gym access and an office puppy would be happily accepted too.
You see, these preferences aren’t limited to the day job. At home, when I’m blogging and travel writing, or planning lessons and marking books, I go to my very own office space. Although it’s the smallest room in the house, its walls are powder blue, and decorated with a large DIY pin map of the UK. I opted for crisp white furniture: desk, bookcase, drawers. It’s also the home to a couple of house plants and scented candles. Yes, I spent hours perfecting it, and it’s my favourite room in the house; my place for inspiration.
Indeed, salary, benefits, and flexibility are essentials for a positive work atmosphere, but we cannot overlook the importance of our office environment for our mental health. Food, water, warmth, shelter and a sense of safety are humans’ basic needs; without them, we are unlikely to truly feel as though we belong in the office, or anywhere. Millennials are constantly criticised for being ‘snowflakes’, for having unreasonably high expectations, for being entitled, for calling out workplace bullying, but we’re not. We are a generation of people who know we don’t have to sit in a brown, cigarette stained cubicle our whole lives, who know we deserve better as employees.
Employers have a lot to juggle when setting up a business. Unfortunately for them, office space is not something they can afford to let drop.
Not long after I almost made a terrible mistake, my current school offered me a promotion, and I grabbed hold of it with both hands. I’m not ready to leave the safety and comfort of my workplace to build an empire (or tuition centre) just yet, but if I were, I’d be searching for the perfect office space for my millennial employees.