One Millennial's Take on the Future of Work

June 23, 2016

Millennials workshop (1).jpg

Young entrepreneurs take part on a Millennials Jam Workshop hosted by the International Telecommunications Union. (Photo by Rowan Farrell of ITU, used under Creative Commons license.)

Takeaways

What do Millennials expect from their future work?

Want to learn more about the future of work? The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation on July 11 will host Work Forward, a program which will take a look at the people, places, and innovations that are shaping the way you work and do business. Find out more here and register!

 

As a Millennial nearing graduation in less than one year, I often wonder what the future may hold, especially when it comes to my career. We spend the first 12 years working our way from kindergarten to senior year of high school, and then college in pursuit of higher degrees, and finally we either continue our education further, or enter the scary “real-world."

After all of those years of preparing ourselves for the life that we will live post-education, many things have changed, especially when it comes to work. The job you once dreamed of as a fourth grader may no longer exist, the first computer you learned to work on is outdated, or you do not even have to attend your dreaded first interview in person—instead it is done digitally. Since we, the Millennials, are growing up right in the middle of this ever-evolving workplace, what do we want from it?

You can consider me a more traditional Millennial, one who embraces the 9-to-5 work day, old-fashioned office spaces, and the “work your way up” kind-of attitude. However, like it or not, things are changing and here are a few things I think future work will entail for Millennials.

  • Flexibility. With trends such as telecommuting and co-working on the rise, flexibility has to play a part in the future of work. Many millennials will want to work from home, or better yet, from an exotic island. For those who do work in an office setting, they may not work best during the conventional 9 to 5 hours; in this case, employers will need to be flexible in working with the next generation in order to receive their best. However, flexibility must work both ways. With the prevalence of smart phones, most people do not think twice about sending work emails at all hours of the night anymore; so it may become normal for your boss to send you a project related message at 10:45 p.m. This will impact the idea of ‘leaving your work at the front door’ and will affect the work-life balance. Overall though, I believe that the flexibility of work will evolve; work hours and settings will change, micro-managing will become a thing of the past, and happier, improved employees will result.
     
  • Artificial Intelligence. It is inevitable, robotics are on the rise, which means the speed of work will increase. We will not need to take the time to type out an email; instead we can just speak it into our phone. The days of hovering around one phone during a crowded conference call will be over because instead we will use a teleconferencing robot to work with everyone involved. These creations are very beneficial to the workplace; for example, by using a teleconferencing robot it will not matter if you are working from home or a co-working space, everyone will be visible in the meeting which will increase productivity. The innovations to come for technology are endless, so it is our responsibility as millennials to be well-versed in these technologies, and be prepared to keep up with the fast past. However, as wonderful as robots and artificial technology may be, at the same time millennials do have the same fears as older generations when it comes to job loss. We know that this new technology can create simplicity, but we want there to be a balance – clearly we did not just spend $100,000 on a college degree for a robot to replace us.
     
  • Open Communication. The idea that ‘communication is key’ will not go away. Millennials want real relationships with their superiors and their teammates; it makes everything more fun (yes, work can and should be fun). An environment where workers are too afraid to ask their boss for help or let them know when they’ve made a mistake is something millennials will not take well to. New communication tools such as Google Hangouts, Slack, and even texting help create this environment of open communication in the workplace. I mean what says building work relationships more than adding an emoji to your office message (thanks to Google Hangout). All in all, if we get all of our work done, does it matter how long of a lunch break we take or if we send our message as a text versus an email? I foresee my future workplace with a much more relaxed environment, where the dress code is less of a to-do, and innovation and creativity is embraced.
     
  • Job Change. Studies show that millennials will change their jobs quite often in order to pursue their passions (Business Insider). I would like to think that I will find my dream career and stick with it until retirement, but realistically this may not be the case. Millennials are a passionate generation, and if we are not given the right stimulation from our work, we will move on to the next bigger and better opportunity. In order to avoid this constant turn-over, employers should embrace the social purposes that now come along with the work, such as cultural diversity.

Overall, I believe that future work for millennials will be less of a hassle and more of a lifestyle. The boundary between work and play will narrow; and by embracing the flexible schedules, the virtual reality office tools, the friendships within the company, and seeking what makes us zealous we will make for greater employees.

 

Want to learn more about the future of work? The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation on July 11 will host Work Forward, a program which will take a look at the people, places, and innovations that are shaping the way you work and do business. Find out more here and register!