I have a confession to make – I am a millennial.
This fact may be scary to some, but I promise that anything you’re thinking I’ve heard before. There are countless articles and video segments calling out “lazy and entitled millennials,” saying that we’re to blame for ruining pretty much everything. The Olympics, the wine industry, working from home, and hotels, as well as the root cause of “America’s Vacation Problem”… the list is endless.
To the average person, millennials must sound like the worst. After all, it’s the message they’re bombarded with.
But there’s another side of the story. The side where we millennials are respected for our contributions to society and the workforce. We’re referred to as highly educated, tech savvy, ready to work and contribute, and a primary force for driving the future of business towards digital platforms.
This is the story that needs to be told. Not because we expect everything for nothing, or instant gratification, or whatever the stereotype is. No, it is because the reality is that we millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest generational group in the country. (According to 2015 U.S. Census data.) We all just need to join together and make constructive changes!
This includes being aware of, and coming to terms with change in commercial real estate, or CRE.
Techies and Connectivity
According to TREC Wire, millennials may be described as the best educated; tech savvy generation. Not only are we tech savvy, but we are also infinitely connected. In the age of connectivity and technology, we are changing how companies and tenants are evaluating buildings, service requests, leases, and a whole lot more.
Arie Barendrecht, CEO of WiredScore, might have said it best in a recent episode of our CRE Tech Talks podcast covering digital economy and connectivity.
In the episode, Arie stated that the term “tech company” isn’t just reserved for new startups in the industry, but all companies. Technology, connectivity, and mobility are becoming the norm and the buildings where millennials, and the companies that hire them, live and work need to provide that un-interrupted connection we so desperately want. It has even become a marketable attribute of a building, according to Barendrecht.
Live, Work, Play
It’s also been said that we millennials are looking for a stronger work-life balance, when compared to previous generations of workers; which means the buildings we work in need to adapt. “The younger market wants to be located in transit-based locations…Millennials have embraced the concept of “live, work, play,” and they expect that the place where they live will be in close proximity to where they work and play” stated Andrew Marshall, COO and EVP of Development at Mack-Cali in a recent interview with New Jersey Business Magazine.
Many people – millennial or not – have gotten used to infinite connectivity and the feeling of instant gratification that comes from being able to get the information you need, whenever you need it, by pulling out their smartphones. And it has begun to be weaved into the fabric that runs the buildings we work and live in, including building services rendered, like work requests. People are attracted to buildings, in both the residential and commercial real estate space, where they can walk to the gym, jump on public transit, and meet up at a nearby bar all in one neighborhood. According to Marshall: “It’s about convenience.”
Big City Living without the Price Tag
There has been a change in land-planning that is also being driven by aforementioned need for a convenient lifestyle. Gene Diaz of Prism Capital Partners notes that developers are looking to revitalize areas that are close to public transit and walkable to downtowns in marquis cities.
Millennials want to live in the thick of things, but can’t always afford the cost of living in notoriously expensive cities such as Boston, Los Angeles, and NYC. While millennials may be more educated, they have less disposable income, thanks to high rents and massive student loan bills. The solution: build near the cities and we will come! Suburban areas are looking to become more urban to stay competitive in the changing landscape of CRE.
75 million Baby Boomers will be 55 or older in just a few years’ time, and many will be looking to retire or will already be retired. Doing the math, there are not enough younger workers to replace the retirees.
This, according to Area Development Magazine, will create a shift in employment power where employees will have the upper hand over employers. This change will create a new trend where employers, companies, and buildings have to move to where the talent lives. Susan Arledge of E Smith Realty notes that car sales are down 30% and 26% of millennials don’t even have a driver’s license. A strong indicator that they prefer more urban environments.
The Connected Office
Arledge also stresses the need for companies and buildings to foster mentorships and team-building, since millennials are getting married and starting families later, while moving and changing jobs more often. If there isn’t that sense of connection and belonging millennials will move on to the next big opportunity.
Ryan Shaw, a millennial in the workforce stresses the need for deep connections to stay put. “I want to take care of my health and have deep relationships with people I care most about. And not just people who happen to be in the same building with me every day.“
Change isn’t easy
If you find yourself getting frustrated with the changes brought about by our entrance into the workforce – we hear you. It isn’t easy for us either. But the truth of the matter is that, love it or hate it, we’re helping to bring about positive change.
Taking a new look at connectivity, technology, and workplace environments is only going to push companies, buildings, and industries to adapt and attract only the best talent – millennial or not.