By: Jo Meunier
Millennial workers want virtual office opportunities and flexible working
Millennials currently make up around half the workforce, and by 2025 that figure will rise to approximately 75%.
Workforce statistics show that this generation is the biggest in US history. At 92 million, there are even more Millennials than Baby Boomers. Given their sheer dominance, it’s no wonder employers are eager to understand what motivates Millennials in the workplace. It’s the key to attracting and retaining the best talent of those born between 1980 and 2000.
So what do Millennials want from the workplace? And how can employers give it to them?
One thing’s for sure, it takes more than salary packages and perks to win over this influential demographic.
Here are 5 things Millennials want from their work environment:
1. Work and lifestyle balance:
Studies on millennials in the workplace, such as the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019, show that this age group still want to earn high salaries and be wealthy like their predecessors.
But their priorities have shifted, and workplace culture and experiences are more valuable to them.
Deloitte found that travel and seeing the world was at the top of 57% of millennials’ list of aspirations, while 46% were more attracted to making a positive impact in their communities or society than in having children and starting families (39%).
The report states:
“Generally, millennials think their ambitions are achievable. But for many, their dreams have been delayed by financial or other constraints.”
2. Work flexibility and freedom:
The desire to travel and move away from rigid 9-5 workplace structures shows that the Millennial workforce value workplace freedom and flexibility much more than previous generations.
An earlier study from Deloitte (2016) found that nearly 75% of Millennials in the workplace place importance on a “work from home” or “work remotely” policy.
Therefore it’s important for employers to provide an environment where people feel valued and trusted, and to provide the flexibility and freedom to allow them to do their best work — whenever, and wherever — that may be.
3. Opportunity for remote work:
Contrary to some opinions, Millennials work hard.
They may shun the traditional desk-bound office environments of their predecessors, but being ‘out of office’ does not make them lazy. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Remote work is now the standard operating mode for at least 50% of the U.S. population, and various research studies suggest that, when planned and managed correctly, remote work can significantly improve productivity and retention.
As the trend continues, the current global shift towards a more “remote-friendly” working culture is expected to continue.
4. Virtual offices:
Workplace flexibility and remote work practices fit perfectly with a virtual office.
As more companies and their workforces choose to work remotely, therefore reducing the amount of physical office space required, demand for virtual offices is expected to increase further.
A virtual office provides all the regular services you will find in an office environment, minus the actual office.
Physical workplace components such as workstations, meeting rooms, and printing facilities are available to use on-demand.
Therefore workers are free to carry out the majority of their duties remotely, wherever they feel most productive, while benefiting from the centralized support system of a virtual office.
5. Tools and tech:
Widely known as ‘digital natives’, Millennials grew up with the Internet and saw massive improvements in mobile and wireless technology along the way.
In many cases, the tech that Millennials have at home far exceeds the quality or performance of the tools they use in the office, which is a significant obstacle to productivity and again, demonstrates that Millennials get more done outside of the office, in their own time and place.
While Millennials typically embrace technology as a means to do their work faster and more efficiently, working remotely can and does throw up connectivity issues.
Therefore it’s important for employers to invest in the right technology for their workforce — this is not necessarily the most hyped new product on the market, but the piece of equipment that best suits your company culture and your team’s requirements.
What Do Millennials Value?
Now we know how Millennials work and what makes them tick, what else do we know about this hard-working age group?
What’s important to Millennials?
One of the major milestones of this generation is the emergence of the ‘sharing economy’.
It reflects this demographic’s reluctance to buy items when instead, they can share or subscribe to them.
It affects everything from homes and cars to music and workspace.
This reduces the cost of acquiring and maintaining major goods, and often generates positive side effects; for instance, renting or sharing a home enables greater flexibility and the option to move quickly, should new career or travel opportunities come up.
And of course…
Millennials who share workspace, often by subscribing to a coworking membership, have the benefit of expanding their professional networks and business opportunities simply by tapping their coworkers’ knowledge.
Training and ‘Upskilling’
Millennials also value the opportunity to train and gain new skills.
Limited availability of skills is a serious problem for companies, both now and for the future of work.
According to a report on the Millennial workforce by PwC (2012), almost half of CEOs claimed that limited availability of key skills is a “serious threat” to their growth prospects.
A quarter of CEOs had to cancel or delay a key strategic initiative over the previous 12 months because the right people weren’t available to execute it.
Those same CEOs say that attracting and keeping younger workers, especially Millennials, is one of their biggest talent challenges.
That’s why employers must continually invest in relevant training.
Indeed, upskilling and ‘learnability’ is an essential component of the future of work; it is an important piece of the workplace puzzle not just for Millennial employment, but also for the ongoing growth, and succession, of the companies that employ them.
But when it comes to the Millennial work environment, it’s not just about having the skills to do their work…
They also want purpose.
Millennials don’t intend to keep a job for life like their predecessors. They want to feel happy and valued in their role, and those who don’t will simply vote with their feet.
This isn’t a challenge for the next generation to solve. It’s happening now, and if neglected, it will grow into a much larger problem.
That’s why it’s important to closely understand what Millennials need and ensure the workplace is adapted to meet those requirements.
That goes for practical requirements, like high-speed WiFi and connectivity, and emotional needs — such as having a shared purpose, feeling engaged, and fulfilling work/life balance by having the opportunity to work flexibly.