As summer comes to a close, students will soon be packing their bags, saying farewell to their internships, and heading back to campus. In the Boston area alone, we’ll soon bear witness to the return of tens of thousands of college students, as reported by the Globe just today (take note of the interactive map of campus move-in dates and plan to work remotely those days!)
As the youngest Millennials conclude their final couple of years at universities and colleges in Boston and around the world, most will soon find themselves active participants in the workforce. Just as much as they may have learned from companies during their internship, organizations, too, are learning from them about changing work expectations associated with these digital natives.
Whether businesses like it or not, Millennials are redesigning what the future of work looks like in the following ways:
Live Wherever, Work Wherever
Although technology is increasingly allowing workers to live anywhere in the world, Millennials are still flocking to bustling cities. These urban hotbeds are breeding grounds of fresh ideas, innovation, and new ways of conducting business. Yet, while many are making the move for career purposes, 48 percent of Millennials have also made it clear that they are moving for lifestyle reasons or for new experiences. Working remotely opens the door to more flexibility and casts a wider net across where they can live and land that elusive dream job.
The rise of remote work is also helping Millennials avoid time-consuming commutes, which on average take 25.4 minutes each day according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In cities, this number inches up to nearly 45 minutes during peak rush hour. When you do the math, that can add up to 42 hours over the course of a year. That’s an entire week spent commuting! Working remotely gives Millennials time back to focus on the next deadline or personal hobbies that need attention.
Work: Part of Your Balanced, Complete Breakfast
There is no generation in the workplace that respects work-life balance more than Millennials. By no means does that make them lazier or less focused on their careers. In fact, 47 percent are working more hours than their predecessors, according to a recent Ernst & Young survey. Millennials crave flexibility in terms of where and how they work, and younger workers are creating new expectations for this lifestyle balance. On the flip side, employers are finding these expectations a real challenge in today’s modern, always-on workforce.
Yet as more Millennials continue to enter the workforce and move up professionally, employers will need to adjust to new norms that support more flexible work-life expectations, both in and out of the office, and at all hours of the day.
Moving From Face Time to FaceTime
Mobile technology is creating new opportunities to increase productivity and successfully oversee a more globalized, mobilized workforce. Dell and Intel conducted a survey that found nearly half of worldwide employees are already working remotely at least a few times a week, and these individuals value the ability to balance both productivity and the quality of life within their remote environment.
With a strong understanding of how to use collaborative technologies in their personal lives, Millennials are collaborating more efficiently than previous generations, regardless of geographic boundaries. Unfortunately, organizations are struggling to keep up with the technological demands driven by younger workers. 38 percent of Millennials feel that outdated collaboration processes and tools are holding back their company’s ability to innovate. When this generation becomes leaders, expect them to drive collaborative behaviors across their organization with a vengeance. But if employers are trying to increase worker retention, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers in charge need to start embracing more collaborative communication technologies today.
The youngest generation of employees and soon-to-be workers are painting a new picture for the future of work, but many of these remote and collaborative workplace trends are not necessarily new. The Global Workplace Analytics found that 50 percent of the U.S. workforce currently holds a job that is compatible with at least partial remote work. These trends will only continue to rise as Millennials, and eventually Gen Z, solidify their place in the workforce.
So as you say goodbye to your hardworking interns this year, keep in mind that you may soon be saying hello to the more collaborative, innovative legacy they are leaving behind. In the meantime, best of luck avoiding double-parked moving trucks and clogged thoroughfares this weekend.