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Flexible Work Environments: Not Just For Millennials

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Office environments are tricky. They need to be open, but not too open, and private, but not too private. They need to facilitate fast-growing businesses that have signed long leases. Tech Wildcatters CEO Gabriella Draney Zielke and Common Desk founder and CEO Nick Clark know the strugglesand opportunitiesof the new workplace. We sat down with Gabriella and Nick to hear their thoughts on the future of the modern office. Hear more from them and others at our Workplace of the Future event on July 28.

Common Desk facilities manager Julio Mendez (in red) and Founder and CEO Nick Clark (in blue)

Millennials often get credited (or blamed) for creating this so-called startup culture where you can set your own schedule, wear yoga pants and drink from the company keg while you code or make cold calls in an open office plan.

But people who walk into Common Desk might be surprised at the number of Baby Boomers and older generations taking advantage of the co-working space, Nick (above right with Common Desk facilities manager Julio Mendez) tells us. "When Boomers initially tour the space, they usually ask about dedicated offices," he says. "We have to slowly help them adapt to see the space based on their needs." Both Common Desk locations have a mix of meeting spaces, semi-private nooks, open desks and breakout rooms.

This flexible type of working environment isn't a one-size-fits-all for Millennials either, Gabriella tells us. Offices remain a pretty even mix of employees (regardless of age) who want a structured 9-5 environment and those who want flexibility. "All generations have gotten more honest about how they like to work," she says. And everyone is reaping the benefits of their new office requests. 

Gabriella Draney Zielke

Defining workers by their generation only negates the importance of his or her personality, Nick notes. Some people may be too shy to make cold calls in an open office plan. Others may need the stimulation of a coffee shop to get creative juices flowing

Innovative companies see the value in offering more flexibility to workers. Gabriella (far right with Tech Wildcatters' Natalie Fletcher and Able Lending team members) has seen many service-based businesses scrap a formal HQ location and capitalize on virtual meetings. On the flip side, she said this increase in flexibility demands additional communication to clearly convey expectations to workers. 

Continued small business, co-working, accelerator and incubator growth makes room for an opportunity for landlords, too

Though successful startups transition out of Tech Wildcatters by definition, and growing businesses could stay at Common Desk indefinitely, both concepts facilitate growth for many companies that then turn to a broker to find a new space. But due to volatility or wild success, these companies can't commit to a long lease.

"You can't lock in a five- or seven-year lease when you're going through incredible growth and don't know how many employees you'll have in 12 months," Nick says.

Gabriella has seen more landlords offering month-to-month or one-year leases. The landlord can charge a premium for the short lease, but then must compensate with additional marketing to refill the space quickly. Lenders need to catch up to this new model, she tells us.

Hear more from Gabriella and Nick on July 28. Register to attend our Workplace of the Future event here.