How we work is changing. Perhaps even more importantly, however, attitudes to work are changing too. And it’s all down to millennials – the future of the workforce.
By 2025, around three quarters of the workforce will be millennials. And that’s important because millennials are a whole new breed. Millennial characteristics include being able multitaskers, goal orientated, connected, digital natives, champions of diversity and they demand recognition! They also place greater importance on work/life balance and flexible working than previous generations, are more team oriented and thrive on collaboration. They’re also ambitious, value transparency and expect openness and honesty in their relationships at work.
How does this shape the workplace culture and how your office or workspace will look and function? Well, whatever your industry or marketplace, people will be attracted to those places that make them feel valued, where they can be independent, and work effectively as part of an inclusive, cohesive team. Let’s take a walk through all the ways that your workplace can better attract and retain next generation employees…
Shorter Working Weeks…
Yay! We hear you say! But it’s not quite that simple. With workers wishing to be more independent in their workstyle and much more fluid about flexibility, better technology enabling everyone to be better connected, there’s less reason to be officially tied to a desk or to rigidly adhere to the 9 to 5. The downside is that how long before people fall into the mindset of ‘taking work home with them’ and allowing that to make them feel overwhelmed.
With this in mind, a workplace that is welcoming, attractive and comfortable is more important than ever to encourage people to spend productive time there and help them achieve a better balance.
…Longer Working Lives
Work is no longer the four letter word it once was, so people are less focused on hitting retirement age and crashing out to hit the golf course. People are invested in their teams, their purpose their employer’s success and achieving their professional ambitions.
And those people are invaluable to any business: their experience, wealth of knowledge and commitment is something to be valued and encouraged. Again, that can be helped by providing a workspace that motivates them, gives them everything they need to do a great job and supports their health and wellbeing.
‘Always On’ Environments
Technology is helping to make processes more efficient. It’s also fuelling an ‘always on’ culture, where it’s too easy to blur the lines of the working day: emails can be easily checked wherever and whenever and more and more of us are using social channels for sending work messages. And while that can be useful to maximising productivity, it can also contribute to stress – and the 10 million working days lost to it in the UK each year.
There are ‘careers in tech’ and there are ‘tech enabled careers’. The former can be quite specialist and are found at the sharp end of innovation. The latter are almost everything else! Technology is now woven into the fabric of our systems and processes and is second nature for those who have grown up in the digital age. How they use it is intuitive and ever changing: continuous adaptation of the technology to their needs is essential.
Tech Rich Environments
There’s no getting away from it: technology continues to permeate every aspect of life – and work. People are investing in technology to automate how they run their home and will increasingly expect the same level of intuition at work. For your business more tech means less downtime, more productivity and more collaboration: more and more people prefer to communicate electronically at work and are also increasingly using instant messaging platforms to collaborate.
VR: The New Reality
Virtual Reality gets its own special mention, such is the power and potential of this incredible technology. Far sighted enthusiasts are exploring the opportunities for VR to create better interactions and as an efficient, engaging conduit for information. It has the potential to do away with travel for meetings and minimise commuting time by providing a similar, connected experience.
The silo mentality is long gone. Or at least it should be. Millennials recognise that working in silos creates disconnects across and within a business, and that can slow processes and impede innovation. Collaborative and inclusive workplaces, on the other hand, empower your people to work together, solving problems proactively and positively. With this in mind, open space workplaces encourage a real sense of openness, both literally and laterally, and enable colleagues to work easily and freely.
We’ve touched on it in the first two points talking about shorter working weeks and lifetime careers, but the focus on flexibility is only set to get sharper. Working from any location, working on different days, flexi-time and opportunities to work in term time only are just a sample of the more established ways in which many companies offer flexibility. But with around three quarters of this generation putting importance on a work from home or remote working policy, there’s lots of room to evolve that even more to meet the demand for better work/life balance.
There are many reasons to think about how you can evolve or innovate your working environments to make them work better for your people. Perhaps the most pertinent is that meeting your people’s wants and needs is better for your bottom line and offers real benefits in terms of recruitment and retention, efficiency savings, morale and growth.
Get it right and your workplace can work wonders for your business.