Once upon a time, remote working or telecommuting used to be a term that applied to sales roles based on the road or from home. However, thanks to the digital age, this is no longer the case. Step forward, the Millennial Nomad.
Millennial Nomad is the term used to describe those aged 18 to 34 who are taking the concept of work-life balance and flexible working to a whole new level. The availability of Wi-Fi coupled with the rise in mobile devices means that workers in a whole host of sectors no longer require a set office base and Millennials are certainly taking advantage of it.
This new generation is challenging traditional ways of working and putting increasing pressure on employers that may be set in their ways. We take a look at how the workplace is changing and why flexible working is vital for business success.
Millennials are characterised by their ambition and desire to keep learning in order to progress through an organisation at a rapid pace. It means that rigid corporate structures, such as working 9 to 5, are a major turn-off leading to them carving out their own flexible working style.
In a report by professional service network, PwC, it was reported that Millennials deem flexible working as the second most important factor in the workplace (with learning and development taking the top spot) with 95% of respondents declaring that work/life balance is important to them.
On the subject of Millennials, Deborah Henretta, Group President, Asia & Global Specialty Channel for Proctor & Gamble said: “The workplace and workforce are going to change pretty dramatically as we look forward. The entire concept of work is going to become more flexible.”
Flexible working is also particularly attractive for talented Millennials who actively seek a new form of work/life balance within progressive organisations. And does it really matter if employees aren’t in the office, as long as the work is getting done?
Flexible working isn’t just reserved for agile SMEs. According to a report in the Financial Times, Vodafone UK has demonstrated its commitment by even the chief executive not having a personal office, instead encouraging hot-desking that allows people to work when and where they want. This has not only reduced space at Vodafone by 30% since 2009, but it has increased productivity by 20%.
Another organisation promoting flexible working is Virgin with its unlimited holiday policy aimed to empower employees to take time off as needed, providing they are co-ordinating with and delivering for their teams.
Call it wanderlust, Millennials have been found to have a strong desire to travel and work overseas, which is taking flexible working to the next level. This is great news for large organisations with offices worldwide as well as for those looking to expand, but what about everyone else? If an employee wants to travel the world, surely that means you’ll be waving them goodbye. However, thanks to flexible working practices, advancements in technology and global Wi-Fi coverage, employees can remain with a company from wherever they happen to be.
This has been demonstrated by Never Ending Voyage, a popular blog launched by Simon Fairbairn and Erin McNeaney, who have been digital nomads since March 2010. They have continued to successfully hold down their day jobs while travelling the world. And Simon and Erin aren’t the only ones with the internet abuzz with similar blogs and Instagram accounts detailing similar digital nomad stories.
The rise of such flexible working practices demanded by the Millennial generation (who are rapidly becoming the workplace majority) means the physical office as we know it is changing dramatically. Virgin commissioned YouGov to carry out a survey looking at peoples’ attitudes towards working from home and the future of offices with 28% stating they believe office working could be a thing of the past in the next 20 years.
As much as people bang the drum for flexible working, it may not suit every organisation, whether they employ Millennials or not. However, the advantages are clear to see in terms of increased productivity and employee engagement. Retaining qualified and skilled staff is vital for employers, not only for the business to prosper, but to keep recruitment costs to a minimum, and flexible working is certainly one method to ensure your Millennial team members stay with you for the long haul.
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