Millennials currently make up 40 percent of the U.S. workforce and are on track to hit 75 percent by 2025, according to a study released by Cushman & Wakefield’s Global Business Consulting this week. "Facing the Millennial Wave" details the significant impact of the millennial generation, defined as the population between ages 18-30, on work-space strategy. The report finds that older generations adapt to the workplace, but millennials expect the workplace to be adapted to their preferences.

In analyzing the characteristics and preferences of millennials in the workplace, Cushman & Wakefield found that young professionals thrive on competition, and not just collaboration. Companies attempting to attract this population have responded to the preferences of the millennial generation by fostering healthy competition among employees while enabling collaboration through open, transparent working environments that provide employees with visibility into their colleagues' activities and level of performance. They have also opted for a variety of options for working spaces, like offices that include traditional desks, standing desks, quiet areas, walking workstations, and cafés.

"In response [to generational shifts], companies have moved away from close-walled, exterior offices and high-walled cubes to workstations designed to create spontaneous interaction," wrote Cushman & Wakefield consulting manager Michael McDermott in an email. "Even traditional, conservative industries have shifted their workplace design to realize higher productivity levels and worker engagement." McDermott added that amenities such as bike parking, healthy food options, and more natural light in the office are being used by companies to attract millennial talent.

Companies have not just modified their office plans to adapt to millennials, they have also readjusted their locations to fit the living demands of this demographic, which has chosen to live in urban core areas in greater numbers, according to the report. U.S. Census data from 2010 concluded that downtown areas in the nation’s largest cities grew by 13.3 percent over the previous decade. While no Census data can confirm the trends in the last four years, the Cushman & Wakefield report argues that this trend has almost certainly accelerated since then. "Facing the Millennial Wave" contends that "some of this renaissance can be attributed to the residential choices of highly-educated millennials, a demographic group that is prized for their tech-savvy skills and an understanding of consumer trends."

The study found that 62 percent of millennials choose to live in the type of mixed-use communities found in urban centers and that two-thirds of the demographic are renters, which better supports an urban housing stock. Urban planners must address growing mixed-use communities that are attracting millennials with the convenience of shopping, restaurants and offices within close proximity to their residence. Consequentially, some companies have shifted from their bases in suburban campuses in favor of locating to growing downtown areas to better leverage this talent pool.

The renewed concentration on developing and retaining central business districts does not mean that "suburban submarkets" are becoming obsolete. The study argues that the "merits of each submarket and its access to the professional Millennial population will play a part in their future demand and relevance." The presence of characteristically urban amenities like public transportation, mixed-use communities, and a pedestrian-friendly environment will continue to support the suburban submarkets.

For more information on the impact of the millennial generation, check out Cushman & Wakefield's "Facing the Millennial Wave."

For more information on the future of workplace, check out Cushman & Wakefield’s "Global Office Forecast 2015–2016."

Homepage image used a Creative Commons License with Flickr user Thomas Henrikson.