At this year’s UC Expo, Fuze hosted a diverse panel of special guests including two ‘app generation’ teenagers, a working millennial, and IT Director James Maunder from the Institute of Directors.
Since hosting this initial conversation, we’ve been speaking to each of these individuals in a series of one-on-one interviews. Through these interviews, Fuze has been discovering what it is that defines each generations’ working practices, and how these generations choose to communicate with both their peers and those outside of their own individual demographics.
In the first of these interviews, we spoke to Sharn Ward, an Asset Manager at renewable energy generator Statkraft and our UC Expo panel millennial.
What office communication tools does your company currently use?
Compared to a lot of companies I see our communications approach as quite modern. We all have company mobile phones, we use video calls, and an internal conferencing system. There are still landlines installed but I’m not sure anyone uses those anymore.
It’s a bit of a patchwork of different systems, but as long as you know what you’re doing with it, it all seems to work out. The biggest challenge comes from outside the organization, when we work with third parties who don’t have access to the same full range of systems that we do. A lot of these third parties – particularly in the public sector – feel outdated by comparison and it becomes difficult to share files, conduct video conferences, or collaborate in a genuinely productive way. It’s a small thing, but it always results in lost time at the beginning of meetings and calls when people from other companies try to dial in.
How does the technology you expect to use at work differ from that of other non-millennials?
It’s a real mixture. People work with the technologies that they feel comfortable with and in the ways that suit them. I think for some of the older members of staff there’s more of a reluctance to explore the different functionalities of our communications software and possibly a reluctance when it comes to video chat.
That said, it’s not necessarily about age. For those who travel a lot, using remote working and collaboration tools is almost second nature, whereas, for those who exclusively work in the office, there’s clearly less need to explore these tools and as such those people are less confident with them.
What is your preferred method for communicating?
It all depends on the setting and what’s needed at the time. If it’s an international meeting then I’ll usually opt for a video call. Personally I don’t like to text people at work, and increasingly I find that I don’t have as many face-to-face meetings as I used to.
Outside of work, I’m a bit more open to the idea of texting, typically using WhatsApp groups to keep in touch with friends and family, and occasionally video calls. I still make a lot of phone calls, but always on my mobile – never on a landline.
What are your expectations around flexible working?
Compared to a lot of people I'm in a fairly unique position when it comes to working flexibly and working from home. As businesses go, we’re not that traditional and people are able to work flexibly when they need to including being able to work from home. Normally I always aim to be online at least between 9am and 3pm but that doesn’t necessarily mean being in the office or being chained to a desk.
Personally I see working from home as hugely important, and I often find that I actually get more done. My job involves a fair amount of in-depth reading and research and as such working in the office can be quite distracting. That said however, it all comes down to the individual. Some of my colleagues are much more productive when they’re working from a formal environment. It’s just about providing people with the right options so that they can pick and choose what works best for them.
Sharn Ward, is an Asset Manager at renewable energy provider Statkraft. To find out more about millennials in the workforce, download our Breaking Barriers 2020 report.