In 2016, Millennials became the majority generation at work. Of course, this was an inevitability, and as Baby Boomers retire and more Millennials enter work, the majority will only grow; by 2030, the generation will make up three-quarters of the workforce. The technology-driven pace of change in today’s world has meant that the characteristics of the Millennial generation have been discussed more than any that came before it.
Though stereotypes associated with Millennials are all too often negative or problematic, there’s no ignoring the fact that it is by far the most tech-savvy, innovative generation in the workforce today. The first generation to truly grow up around technology - including, crucially, the internet - Millennials have a unique perspective on how business can be done. They also have different expectations, though, and as attracting and keeping hold of Millennials becomes more important business many need to rethink their practices.
The growth in the importance of Cloud computing to the working practices of today’s average company means that working remotely has only gotten more and more viable. This is a key opportunity for businesses to reinvent the way they work. According to Forbes, a huge ’85% of Millennials want to telecommute 100% of the time, with 54% wanting flexible or alternative schedules.’ It’s a mindset that stems from being constantly connected, having the facilities to work independently, and feeling like the busy commute into a city center is an unnecessary add-on to an already long working day.
But remote work isn’t just more convenient - it makes business sense. For smaller companies, saving on office space can drastically lower all too often crippling overheads, and the funds can be put to work in more productive areas. Hiring also benefits, with companies able to hire talent from anywhere they please, without the constraint of having to find candidates within commuting distance from their offices. This may also allow companies to find better talent at a cheaper rate.
A key concern for companies when they begin offering remote work would be the loss of collaboration. Without all employees together in the same space, there is the danger that job roles can become isolated and that innovative ideas can struggle to germinate or spread. Improvements in web-based chat systems like Slack should mitigate this, and regular reviews can ensure that any employee frustration is heard. Collaborative work is arguably more productive on channels like Slack - documents can be shared instantly and details can be discussed without employees having to leave their desks. As software like Slack develops, the necessity of an office as a central hub is diminished.
The practicalities of ensuring productivity and creating standards for communication might make some companies apprehensive. But though there is opposition to remote working, it is crumbling, and as progressive businesses thrive whilst embracing the new working landscape, more traditional entities will follow.
For employees, remote working means a more flexible lifestyle. In a survey conducted by FlexJobs in 2015, 84% of Millennials said they wanted more of a work-life balance - losing the rigidity of nine to five in the office can be a good place to start. The likes of Apple, American Express, Deloitte, UnitedHeath, and Dell have all implemented remote work programs, aimed to offer this coveted flexibility. As Millennials increase their stake as the dominant demographic in the workplace over time, keeping the best of them happy will only become more of a priority for companies. Remote working doesn’t mean relinquishing control of your workforce, and it just might take your businesses to the next level.