I am a millennial. As are the editors of the three other TechDecisions sites. As are many of the marketing, editorial and sales associates in my company. As are a good amount of public relations and marketing personnel that I deal with on a daily basis. So on and so forth.
If you search your office it will be plain to see that millennials have begun their steady and assured takeover of the workplace. If you don’t see it yet, you will. According to a UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School study, millennials will make up 46 percent of the workforce by 2020. This means that companies that want to compete for millennial talent must conform to millennial expectations. And across the board, studies have found that millennials have expectations that don’t fall in line with the traditional workspace model.
So how do we marry these ideals? How does a company outfit themselves with technology that will appeal to this new generation that wishes to work like no generation has before? It starts with understanding what they want.
This is the big one for millennials. According to a Bentley University study, 32 percent of millennials answered that “my personal life will take priority over my professional goals.” In media, on television, in movies, long has this generation been conditioned to the trope of businessperson that works so hard to provide for the family that, in the end, he has been ostracized by never being around, or the idea of working to live without ever actually living. These are cautionary tales to us, and we have listened to the moral.
This doesn’t mean millennials are unwilling to work. On the contrary, according to the same study, 65 percent of millennials say being successful in a high paying career or profession is one of the most important things in their lives. The rub being that successful personal lives are also one of the most important things.
Content sharing systems such as Polycom’s Media Suite can capture meetings and store them online for employees to peruse at their leisure.
It comes down to more flexibility. According to a PwC survey of its own employees, 64 percent of millennials would like to occasionally work from home, while 66 percent of millennials would like flex hours. So the technology decision maker needs to look at ways for millennials to collaborate remotely.
Start with videoconferencing capabilities. These millennials are using laptops, almost always equipped with a camera, to work from home. Small huddle rooms with videoconferencing displays can allow those in-office to communicate effectively with those outside the office. Lecture capture software can allow remote employees or those with flexed hours to review videoconferencing sessions or presentations at their leisure, and software with text recognition can create a transcript where employees can search for key words and skip to relevant points in meetings to save time. File-sharing software let different employees collaborate on the same material either in real time or at their own pace, tracking changes as they go. Interactive displays or whiteboards allow collaboration sessions to be captured, turned into a file, and shared, so that remote employees have all of the notes and annotations they need to continue working outside of the office.
Millennials are largely looking to be a part of a team. According to research by the IBM Institute for Business Value, 56 percent of millennials claim they make better decisions when a variety of people provide input, and 35 percent of millennials prefer a manager who is ethical, fair, and recognizes the team for an accomplishment over the individual.
Whether small or large teams, collaboration systems are what we are looking for. Huddle spaces can incorporate digital displays or interactive whiteboards that allow content to be manipulated by a team and shown to the whole team on-screen at once. Team members should be able to then annotate and manipulate in tandem as they work together. Collaboration software can allow for a screen to be split, so that one employee can work on a document in the top-right corner of the screen, another can work on different content at the bottom, and a third can work on content on the left side, all at once. There are also systems that allow remote employees to work on the same content in real time, or to view what is being worked on in real time.