I recently read an article about collaboration in the era of the cloud on the Sociable.
It was written by Mike Jones, a recent Boston University graduate with an MS in Mass Communication. Mike explains that the new Era of the Cloud is changing the way that workplaces collaborate. He offers some advantages and disadvantages of the work from home trend that many businesses have seen employees take to. It’s not a bad article if you have the time to check it out.
I’m not here to critique Mike’s work or to laud him. The truth is, he didn’t offer much more than you’re going to find here at TechDecisions – a majority of employees prefer to work from home, it offers a work/life balance that millennials look for in jobs, it cuts down on commute time and it allows employees to work more often because there is less of a distinction between work and home. Et cetera.
These are all valid points. Pointing out that it helps employees by opening the job pool up to further than commute times allow is a valid point as well. And making the case that society and employers will benefit because employees, in general, will be happier… it’s a bit of a stretch but I see what he’s trying to say. The ripple effect of having happy people is that they spread happiness to others (see: Pay It Forward).
What struck me most was this line here:
Moreover, happy employees are more prone to show loyalty to their company because it played a vital role in the higher quality of their personal life. The Millennials form a generation that is known for its tendency to change their jobs too often, so employers should have the wellbeing of their employees as a priority.
Mike is likely a member of this Millennial generation. When you break his article down far enough, you’ll see that it is an argument about why he should be allowed to work from home. He meaning himself, other millennials, and employees in general.
The work force is well aware of what companies are capable of. They know that cloud services make it possible to save documents and access them anywhere on the globe. They know that videoconferencing technology can put them face to face with anyone, anytime, anywhere. They know that lecture capture and file sharing can put the valuable aspects of meeting in front of them, even when they weren’t there. They know that, when they’re sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on their way to the office, there is another company somewhere else that won’t make them do that every day.
And you know it, too.
I’ve pointed to Mike’s article because it speaks to the overall frame of mind of his entire generation. They’re willing to weigh options. They’ll take less money for more value somewhere else, like time or lifestyle. They’ll leave a company that doesn’t meet their ideals. While many may call them lazy or entitled, it doesn’t really matter. We need them to work for us either way, and they won’t do it if we’re not providing them with more than a paycheck.
If you want to bring on the most talent, you have to offer benefits. In a world where cloud collaboration offers employees the chance to work from home, at least part of the time, employees will see a company that doesn’t allow that as outdated. Either because they won’t adapt to the right technology, or because they won’t adapt to the right company culture.
This won’t be true for all companies but it’s true for many and employees know it. Working from home is more possible than ever, and when you force employees to come into the office when they know they don’t have to, they get upset. Take away all the fluff about how happy employees are more productive and inspired and innovative – upset employees leave. An employee that doesn’t work for you anymore is as unproductive as they come.
I’m not saying you should change everything about your company and let everyone work from home whenever they want. That’s a quick way to lose track of your staff. What I’m saying is that the work force is aware of what you can do for them, and when you’re not doing it they’ll take notice. Take advantage of easy, attractive benefits – benefits like occasionally working from home – and set yourself up to compete with companies that are already ahead of the curve when it comes to collaboration in the workplace.
Otherwise you won’t be hiring the Mike Joneses of the world any time soon.