Attracting Millennials with the Sound of Silence


Millennials, whether striking out on their own as entrepreneurs or looking for employment with a company, are actively seeking out workspaces that feel reflective of their energetic, entrepreneurial spirit, hyper-fast pace, digital footprint and desire for a seamless work/life integration.

That's where coworking comes in. Coworking spaces are designed to be more lifestyle friendly and fluid than the typical corporate environment. Think, open floor plan, soft-seating areas, modern furnishings, and of course, plenty of space and light. And then there’s the buzz factor.  Call it community, call it culture, it's an essential part of the offering.  

But does the buzz factor necessarily need to equal buzz?

Despite the growing tendency for coworking spaces to woo millennials with all kinds of bells and whistles -- beer on tap, Karaoke rooms, ping pong tables -- at the end of the day, there’s work to be done. And that work often requires long stretches of quiet, uninterrupted time. Finding a space that can support that need is a non-negotiable for most modern entrepreneurs.

According to a recent study by Oxford Economics (an analysis firm out of Oxford University’s business college) of the 1,200 executives and non-senior employees, 74% reported working in an open plan office, and their number one essential when looking for an office space – uninterrupted work time. While more than half of the employees surveyed complained about noise, it was millennials who were especially likely to seek quiet, opting to move desks, office spaces, or wear noise-cancelling headphones to help solve the problem. And it’s an issue that supervisors are taking note of, with 69% reporting that they have laid out their spaces with noise reduction in mind, and 64% engineering their spaces to also limit noise from outside.

People often comment on the quiet the first time they walk into a Grind coworking space. How can such a calm and quiet space foster innovative collaboration? How does a workplace successfully blend the benefits of a vibrant, collaborative community with the need for quiet contemplation?

  1. Keep it Clean.

Streamlined spaces, minimalist designs, and an almost zen-like atmosphere all make it easier to focus on the job at hand. While some spaces have designed their offices with “fun” in mind, things like slides, ponds, and sprawling campuses aren’t always conducive to productivity – and can often come with a hefty price tag.  Instead, look for opportunities to maximize the aesthetic with attention to detail instead of clutter. A clean space makes for a clear head and allows for quiet contemplation.

  1. Keep it Quiet.

Make your motto – “Ask and ye shall receive.” If quiet is the primary attraction for millennials looking for a workspace, give it to them. Offer a variety of spaces to suit different needs, ensuring that those who want quiet are able to find it when they need it.  For example, at Grind, we offer different size conference rooms, intimate chat rooms and phone booths for those who need to speak, present, or collaborate with others. We also offer headphones, quiet tables and soundproofing for those who prefer the sound of silence. Getting the acoustics right is critical. We think about acoustics engineering as much as we do our lighting.

  1. Keep it Community-Minded.

At Grind, coworking is about more than our space and amenities. The experience of working at Grind is shaped by our community members. Different people have different workstyles. Some people are looking to network, or collaborate, others are looking for some heads down work time. Most people are looking for a bit of both. Grind’s spaces are intentionally designed to foster opportunities for entrepreneurs and freelancers to network when they want to and work uninterrupted when they need to. We believe coworking communities tend to be self-selective and when coworking space is quiet and respectful, the companies that opt to work there will be too.

We are fortunate to be living in a time where talented young entrepreneurs have easy access to technology that allows them to be lean, agile and mobile or as we say at Grind, to “work liquid.” But at the end of the day, people still do need a place where the can sit down (or stand up) and just get their work done. We’ve learned over the past five years of being in business that designing for that balance is the key. A careful mix of quiet and collaboration yields the best results -- for millennial entrepreneurs and, ultimately, their networks, partners and co-workers across generations.

Topics: coworking entrepreneurship entrepreneur business development freelance startup

Written by Felicia Stingone

A marketing dynamo and self-described curious citizen, Felicia Stingone is the CMO of Grind. The former head of brand marketing for Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, Felicia has worked with some of the most widely recognized brands including 92Y, Citi, Hennessy, Smart Water, Subway and Target among others.

Felicia Stingone