This article was written by Suzanne Kaplan and originally posted to BizPhilly/PhillyMag.com.
Recently, Matt Burns, CEO and president of Burns Engineering, embarked on a move to new headquarters at 20th and Market Streets. As head of the 50-year-old design and management consulting company, Burns had undertaken a major move before, but this time it presented an unexpected challenge: generational issues.
Burns needed a plan that would take him 10 years into the future, spanning the length of his lease. But his older engineers wanted to keep the corner offices they had worked so hard for. They wanted big tables for blueprints and plenty of storage space for their 20-year-old files. Meanwhile the current younger employees — and those who would be recruited in the years ahead — preferred plenty of open space, natural light, and collaborative spaces instead of offices and white boards for projecting drawings.
To magnify the situation, competitors were constantly trying to poach his young engineers, so Burns had to provide the kind of environment that would appeal to them as well as retain them. Millennials are the largest generation in the workplace, and their sheer numbers mean they will eventually be taking over the leadership reins. It’s the perfect storm that can turn the office world upside down.
Photos by Brian Howard