Whilst the concept of working nine to five has long been ingrained in the workplace, this traditional working practice is increasingly being considered an expired approach to the working day. In particular, the millennial generation considers this regimented structure as constricting and unnecessary in a world that encourages and embraces collaborative technology outside of the workplace.
Millennials are a vital demographic for organizations – now making up the most significant generation of the workforce – so it's crucial for organizations to understand what motivates this generation not just to retain the staff they have, but to attract talent in the future.With rapid technological advancements positively impacting our personal lives over recent years, employee expectations have changed with the mindset that technology has already improved our lives at home, so those advancements should also be introduced to the workplace. As digital natives living in a land of digital immigrants, it makes sense for Millennials to lead the way in encouraging employers to embrace a modern and productive digital work environment.
It's well documented that a happier workforce leads to higher productivity levels, so with a stronger focus on staff wellbeing, businesses realize that flexible working can be the key to unlocking a positive and productive workplace. Those organisations that are yet to embrace this modern workplace culture are missing a trick, when research consistently shows that agile working practices can play a huge part in attracting and retaining talent, with 70% of people stating that flexible working would make a job listing more attractive and 65% of employees who benefit from flexible working report being more satisfied with their jobs and achieve a better work-life balance.
As the adoption of cloud technology continues to increase amongst organizations of all sizes, there's no doubt that the rate of mobile working will increase as the cloud offers opportunities for greater collaboration. So how can an employer establish flexible working policies that can balance and respect the needs of the organization with the needs of the employee? For the initiative to function effectively, the workforce must be trusted to an extent to perform their required duties within agreed parameters, but management still involves visibility to ensure the flexible working system is working effectively.
This visibility for managers has previously been reliant on staff self-reporting hours, with employers trusting in their word – whilst this is a good approach in terms of the level of trust and autonomy between managers and staff, there is no data to fall back on to measure the effectiveness of the policy or to ensure that it has been rolled out equally across all relevant departments of an organisation. In data-driven organizations, the lack of an evidence-base can be a significant barrier to the adoption of flexible working initiatives, preventing employees from realizing the benefits.
By deploying simple cloud-based technology that allows employees to sign in to work – at their place of business or remotely via a mobile application or management portal – companies can see real-time updates of the location and status of staff. This approach provides solid foundations for collaboration as colleagues can see where a member of staff is located and if they are contactable – fuelling productivity. Furthermore, with an evidence base of the number of hours worked, employees can see an accurate record as well as entitlement to flexible hours. This visibility of working hours also supports the work-life balance craved by millennials, as the technology not only shows when colleagues are working but crucially, when they are not.
As technology advances to provide even more opportunities for remote and flexible working, it's fair to say that the traditional nine to five workday will quickly be a thing of the past. Instead, the most forward-thinking organizations will be those that implement simple, cost-effective tools that can support employees to achieve a work-life balance and collaborate with colleagues effectively. Not only can simple technology be useful in helping to create a positive culture for the existing workforce, but also provide a foundation to attract future employees and remain a step ahead of the competition.