Realcomm Millennials panel

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SAN DIEGO—Succession planning, intergenerational learning andunderstanding that workplace needs don't vary among the generationsare important concepts in developing young leaders, said speakers atRealcomm/IBCon's conference CRE Tech5.0 here this week. Speakers on the panel “IntegratingMillennials in the Workplace—Technology,Work Style and Communications” discussed howMillennials are changing the look andfunctionality of the workplace and whether or not this cohort willbe prepared to take the reins once the current leaders move out ofthe workforce, as they are beginning to do. Moderator BradWhite of SES Consulting, a self-confessedMillennial, said, “The workplace is Millennial dominant—we need tofigure out how to incorporate them.”

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Esther Bonardi of Yardi said48% of the workforce is Millennials, leaving the remaining 52% tobe divided up among Baby Boomers andGen-Xers. “Their communication styles and the useand desire for technology are where the differences lie. Boomerslike the phone and short emails. Gen-Xers prefer long emails andlong phone message, while Millennials want to text.”

|

Randy Howder of design firmGensler said his firm has studied the wayMillennials differ in the same physical space from others in theworkplace. “We see no fundamental generational differences in whatpeople need from their physical space.” They all need privacy andspaces to communicate and collaborate.

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Justin Segal of Boxer Propertysaid his firm has focused on hiring less-experienced people and hasoften hired them right out of school for the last 25 years. Thesehires “want to learn something new, be up to speed quickly and moveon to another job. They don't want to hang around for three yearsshadowing someone. The workplace can be structured in a way thatallows less-experienced people to be effective. We love them evenif they're only with us for a couple years.”

|

Brandon Van Orden with CousinsProperties said the challenge is that now that Millennialsare in the workforce, are they getting leadership training? Willthey be ready to take over when the Baby Boomers and Gen-Xersleave?

|

Bonardi said there is a gap between doing a good job and havingthe experience and business wisdom that can only come over thecourse of time. She added that when younger people can find commonground with older people, they will listen to them, “but not if Ican't relate at their level. You must be able to work and relatethe way the younger generation does.”

|

Segal said more than 75% of the people in his company started atthe entry-level point and grew to significant positions. He saidhis firm teaches younger hires in small bits of information as wellas experientially in the form of “sprints”—goals that are not apart of an existing process, that may come up in meetings and, inthe past, have been talked about but never acted upon. Millennials,with their goal-oriented ideals, do well when working onsprints.

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Van Orden said when his firm looks at succession planning, it isrealistic in understanding that there will be people coming in andchanging jobs more often—that's just the nature of the beast rightnow.

|

Howder said that the way an office is designed sends a messageto those who work there about its leadership plans. An office withprivate offices on the exterior and a size hierarchy, with cubiclesin the center, “communicates something,” while open-plan officesalso communicate something. “Why give some people more privacy ifeverybody wants the same thing?” One way of accomplishing this isto develop “do not disturb” signals for everyone in theworkplace—not just upper-level management. “We're seeing the worldmoving toward a studio-based environment and team-basedenvironments.”

|

Howder added that the workplace is often divided into themakers—or those who do the actual work—and the managers who overseethe work and create synergies among departments. He suggested thata free-address system might work better for managers who need tocollaborate each day with different makers to get things done,while the makers may need a more fixed place to work every day.“This flattens the hierarchy and allows learning by osmosis.”Bonardi said Millennial workers are very collaborative, whereasGen-Xers are more independent, so what Howder suggests works from aspace perspective.

|

Howder went on to say, “We're recognizing the shortcomings of acompletely open environment. Rather than designing for the lowestcommon denominator that demands, 'we must collaborate,'” we shouldbe designing for what meets each need.

|

The question of increasing employee retention among Millennialswas raised, and the panelists expressed mixed feelings about itsimportance. For Segal, “It's OK with us that they move; we get thebest people who are passionate and get the best from them beforethey go,” but his firm does offer the ability to move laterallywithin the company.

|

White asked if culture and passion come up often for Millennialsin the workplace, and Bonardi said it's important to market thecompany to its employees as well as give them the opportunity to dosomething they feel is good for the world—that promotes companyculture and passion and encourages retention.

|

Howder said a healthy and health-promoting work environment is a“huge return on investment.”

|

Realcomm Millennials panel

|

SAN DIEGO—Succession planning, intergenerational learning andunderstanding that workplace needs don't vary among the generationsare important concepts in developing young leaders, said speakers atRealcomm/IBCon's conference CRE Tech5.0 here this week. Speakers on the panel “IntegratingMillennials in the Workplace—Technology,Work Style and Communications” discussed howMillennials are changing the look andfunctionality of the workplace and whether or not this cohort willbe prepared to take the reins once the current leaders move out ofthe workforce, as they are beginning to do. Moderator BradWhite of SES Consulting, a self-confessedMillennial, said, “The workplace is Millennial dominant—we need tofigure out how to incorporate them.”

|

Esther Bonardi of Yardi said48% of the workforce is Millennials, leaving the remaining 52% tobe divided up among Baby Boomers andGen-Xers. “Their communication styles and the useand desire for technology are where the differences lie. Boomerslike the phone and short emails. Gen-Xers prefer long emails andlong phone message, while Millennials want to text.”

|

Randy Howder of design firmGensler said his firm has studied the wayMillennials differ in the same physical space from others in theworkplace. “We see no fundamental generational differences in whatpeople need from their physical space.” They all need privacy andspaces to communicate and collaborate.

|

Justin Segal of Boxer Propertysaid his firm has focused on hiring less-experienced people and hasoften hired them right out of school for the last 25 years. Thesehires “want to learn something new, be up to speed quickly and moveon to another job. They don't want to hang around for three yearsshadowing someone. The workplace can be structured in a way thatallows less-experienced people to be effective. We love them evenif they're only with us for a couple years.”

|

Brandon Van Orden with CousinsProperties said the challenge is that now that Millennialsare in the workforce, are they getting leadership training? Willthey be ready to take over when the Baby Boomers and Gen-Xersleave?

|

Bonardi said there is a gap between doing a good job and havingthe experience and business wisdom that can only come over thecourse of time. She added that when younger people can find commonground with older people, they will listen to them, “but not if Ican't relate at their level. You must be able to work and relatethe way the younger generation does.”

|

Segal said more than 75% of the people in his company started atthe entry-level point and grew to significant positions. He saidhis firm teaches younger hires in small bits of information as wellas experientially in the form of “sprints”—goals that are not apart of an existing process, that may come up in meetings and, inthe past, have been talked about but never acted upon. Millennials,with their goal-oriented ideals, do well when working onsprints.

|

Van Orden said when his firm looks at succession planning, it isrealistic in understanding that there will be people coming in andchanging jobs more often—that's just the nature of the beast rightnow.

|

Howder said that the way an office is designed sends a messageto those who work there about its leadership plans. An office withprivate offices on the exterior and a size hierarchy, with cubiclesin the center, “communicates something,” while open-plan officesalso communicate something. “Why give some people more privacy ifeverybody wants the same thing?” One way of accomplishing this isto develop “do not disturb” signals for everyone in theworkplace—not just upper-level management. “We're seeing the worldmoving toward a studio-based environment and team-basedenvironments.”

|

Howder added that the workplace is often divided into themakers—or those who do the actual work—and the managers who overseethe work and create synergies among departments. He suggested thata free-address system might work better for managers who need tocollaborate each day with different makers to get things done,while the makers may need a more fixed place to work every day.“This flattens the hierarchy and allows learning by osmosis.”Bonardi said Millennial workers are very collaborative, whereasGen-Xers are more independent, so what Howder suggests works from aspace perspective.

|

Howder went on to say, “We're recognizing the shortcomings of acompletely open environment. Rather than designing for the lowestcommon denominator that demands, 'we must collaborate,'” we shouldbe designing for what meets each need.

|

The question of increasing employee retention among Millennialswas raised, and the panelists expressed mixed feelings about itsimportance. For Segal, “It's OK with us that they move; we get thebest people who are passionate and get the best from them beforethey go,” but his firm does offer the ability to move laterallywithin the company.

|

White asked if culture and passion come up often for Millennialsin the workplace, and Bonardi said it's important to market thecompany to its employees as well as give them the opportunity to dosomething they feel is good for the world—that promotes companyculture and passion and encourages retention.

|

Howder said a healthy and health-promoting work environment is a“huge return on investment.”

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Carrie Rossenfeld

Carrie Rossenfeld is a reporter for the San Diego and Orange County markets on GlobeSt.com and a contributor to Real Estate Forum. She was a trade-magazine and newsletter editor in New York City before moving to Southern California to become a freelance writer and editor for magazines, books and websites. Rossenfeld has written extensively on topics including commercial real estate, running a medical practice, intellectual-property licensing and giftware. She has edited books about profiting from real estate and has ghostwritten a book about starting a home-based business.

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