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Oct 12, 2016

Building Bridges – Dismantling Silos – What do Millenias Want?


Guest Blogpost by Ashley Muller

Peter Pan

As a representative of the millennial generation, alarm bells started to go off in my head when these above words were being tossed around. What does all this have to do with anything? It seemed way over my head. It may have had to do with the fact that I am not part of a corporate real estate, finance, IT, or HR department – but still, why didn’t anyone else seem bothered by a lack of discussion around purpose and values?


I took a step back and looked at the people leading the discussion on these topics – not one of them was under the age of 30, maybe not even under the age of 40. This was scary to me. How are we talking about the future of the workplace and productivity when the discussion was completely ‘top heavy,’ lacking in accurate representation of the workforce? I am not devaluing and disrespecting individual’s with lengthy experience in such industries – wisdom is most certainly needed, but if I were to buy into what they were saying around these topics, I would need to have someone who understood the challenges from my generation, someone who also cannot stand the thought of formal email exchanges and would undoubtedly defer to the reality of using Whatsapp, Snapchat, Skype or Twitter with my boss, colleague or client. A millennial.


Anyways, thankfully the day went on and I wound up at a table of top-level professionals in corporate real estate, sustainability, transformation management, knowledge management, etc. Now what was I going to do here? I decided to go back into ‘institutionalized student mode’ to where I sat down, shut up, listened and most importantly, fit in! But then, discussion hit and curiosity set in.


Little did I know how much I would actually be included in the conversation that then began to unfold. This is not what I was anticipating and was actually shocked at how curious others were to hear my perspective, hearing the voice of my generation. Why would they want that? Then it hit me, these guys are interested because they care and they want change! They are in the business of wanting to build bridges and dismantle silos and old ways of doing things, which kept people separate and in their chained in their corners. They were curious, connecting, and communicating! To me, this was the greatest invitation to trust them and a tangible real time example of dismantling silos. They weren’t there to compete, degrade, or show their superiority but to understand, explore and unlock innovative solutions to the challenges facing corporate culture today – WITH ME. This is how the discussion then unfolded.



  • Freedom of movement and remote desktop option

  • Positive working environments where there is minimum to no micromanagement

  • Bosses as friends, who instead act as supporters towards personal and professional development

  • Flexibility of hours – we like to work towards a deadline so we can time manage ourselves

  • Trust and inclusion

  • Collaboration and creativity – we need constant stimulation (we are the products of the technological age where we get distracted and bored in under 30 seconds!)

  • We will likely only stay in a job two years, not because we hate our life, but because we want to just switch it up and try something new – the world is accessible and at our fingertips!


After some back and forth about my generation and our work ethic, preferences, learning styles, career aspirations, etc., the final question came. “Ashley, what do you think about pensions?” I panicked. Pensions! Who talks about pensions? What does that even look like at my age, why would anyone even consider that before the age of 45? I burst out laughing, because the thought of pensions had never crossed my mind. I am still concerned about paying off student loans and making enough money for my next new and exciting ‘adventure holiday.’ Why would I want to talk about pensions!?


Moving on from that, it became clear the gap between generations. So instead of crossing our arms, rolling our eyes, sighing with frustration and scurrying back to the corners we emerged from, we all sat forward rolled up our sleeves and went to work. How can we collectively, across our silos, connect with each other and drive forward change to create a new culture and new future.  I have given Chris my immediate reflections which he posted in an earlier blogpost.  Having had a bit more time to reflect on the key aspects they are twofold.  Firstly, can we all agree that there is a need to REDEFINE ‘place’ in regards to corporate real estate, property, etc. in order to create a space to maximize effectiveness and efficiency of the new working generation and indeed for those that have been in the system for some time!  Secondly, could we aim to create a new future along with a better way of living based on VALUES and new sets of principles…


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