Richard Eglon, Marketing Director at Comms-care, says that flexible working becomes reality with a push from generation Y, 4G and cloud computing. He explains.
In 2005, Steve Jobs was invited to reflect upon his life and career in a commencement address at Stanford University. He told the group of graduates that life should be lived with purpose and that the focus of work was to find what you love. “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? Whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something,” he told the audience.
The whole idea of changing jobs and reflecting on one’s life-balance was something previous generations weren’t encouraged to do. Post-war economies were driven by baby boomers that were fed the notion of a job for life and employment was a means to an end. It didn’t matter if you liked work – it was something you had to do. Work was life and life was work.
Fast forward to today and companies are faced with a new breed of workers- the so-called generation Y staff that were born after the 1980s. Generation Y-also known as Millennials- like what Steve Jobs had to say – and they don’t see work the same way their parents did. Generation Y work to have the opportunity to do other things; they work because they like what they do. Nothing is permanent- it’s all about creating options to live a life they want.
Millennials have many inspirations- they even have their own acronym that describes their ambition- the so called ‘GYPSY’ brigade. This acronym stands for Generation Y Protagonist and Special Yuppies. This group think highly of themselves and feel their talent and brilliance should be rewarded with an interesting and well-paid job waiting for them when they want to go for it. The problem of course is that the real-world is full of jobs that are hard work and relatively mundane. The shock of realising that the dream job is more elusive than expected can leave the ambitious gypsy feeling deflated and not particularly special. They don’t want to just clock in and out every day in the office.
So, what can businesses do to make the GYPSY workers feel they should stick it out in their jobs?
Cloud technology can help companies manage the needs of generation Y for the long term benefit of their organisation. If they are going to attract the right talent, they have to be accommodating to them and add more incentives and perks to their role. Remember, this is a generation that wants flexible working and career breaks; the ability to host conference calls on the train or at home while the new born is asleep. They are the generation that expects access to content anywhere and at any time, and to have access to devices on many different platforms.
We know the answer already to the cloud question – it’s given us freedom, access and possibility-the three things that generation Y crave and expect. Cloud providers are also investing vast sums trying to improve services and to make it easier -and cheaper- for companies to offer their services.
HP, for example, recently announced it plans to spend more than US$1 billion over the next two years to develop and offer open source cloud-computing products and services. The company is following the lead of other players, such as Cisco, which has also pledged US$1 billion to build a “network of clouds” known as InterCloud to keep up with the competition. What these providers realise is that the challenges of cloud have grown to include support for multiple devices in a hybrid environment- and they are bending over backwards to offer this service. Why? Because businesses have no choice. Companies have to offer flexibility to employees.
But is this enough to keep generation Y happy?
Forbes recently published an article highlighting managers’ concerns over Generation Y’s attitudes to work and how some businesses find it difficult to ‘engage’ with Millenials. The piece offered some suggestions to motivate this workforce, such as listening and adapting to their needs but there are still tremendous levels of frustration and dissatisfaction among this group of future leaders.
Cloud is giving Millennials what they supposedly want – freedom and choice- but so is the wider rollout of 4G. This is the fastest data connection to date and offers the best possible connectivity to people wishing to work remotely. It plays a pivotal role in the deployment of cloud services and provides greater interoperability between operators. Service-based roaming is seamless, so if a GYPSY decides to work abroad for a few days they can do so with ease. When they roam they can get video, data and other broadband intensive services in the palm of the hands instantly.
Companies can also launch bring your own apps (BYOA) with ease too. The combination of superfast broadband and cloud provides a platform to deliver key apps that employees can activate on demand – under the guidance of IT departments.
These kinds of technologies can definitely offer the kind of choices that previous generations could only dream of- but winning the hearts and minds of millenials might still take a lot more to achieve than simply letting employees work from home.