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‘Reinventing’ suburban office space

New Jersey’s suburban office complexes are going the way of the dinosaur, according to one of the state’s leading economists. He said millennials and Generation “Y” are the ones driving the workforce and they have no interest in being stuck in an office in the middle of nowhere.

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“The business model in the 1980s and 1990s was to get the workers into the building, no distractions when they’re inside, they keep their nose to the grindstone for eight hours and then they leave again,” said James Hughes, dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. “Millennials don’t want that segmented eight-hour work day. They want live, work and play environments.”

Businesses and policymakers have to adjust to this new age wave of employers, Hughes said. He called them the “digerati” and said they don’t want to work in an office and with all of the evolving technology, they don’t need to either.

“They can work anyplace, anytime,” Hughes said. “Living in an isolated suburban area is not what they want. We have a new generation driving the workforce. They were born and raised in suburbia. They want to get out of suburbia.”

Reinventing suburban office campuses and suburban downtowns to attract the young workers is an idea that should be explored, according to Hughes. He said local economies are hurt when an office building goes vacant, because less people are around to spend money at stores and restaurants.

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