A generation used to technology and Internet at its fingertips is changing the workplace, ditching the traditional 9-to-5 schedule for more flexibility.
How far into the future would we have to look to see the abandonment of the 40-hour work week? Not too long, some say: With the millennial generation pushing flexibility to a new level, a movement is brewing to change the traditional 9-to-5 grind and give employees less constraints in terms of hours and place.
"All hands on deck, but at different time" is how communications firm Euro RSCG Worldwide predicts work will be in 2012. "Generation Y (which we call millennials) will upend the traditional workday, as the digital generation works anywhere, anytime. Look for 2012 to be the beginning of an era in which notions of time are divided differently, especially when we all know work nowadays is a 24/7/365 proposition."
An article on TIME Moneyland posits that millennials -- the generation born between 1982 and 1993 -- are changing the traditional work schedule because they want a different environment from the one their parents had. Employers have taken note of this evolution too, and many have launched flexibility programs and offer options such as telework. In government particularly, telework has gone from being a business perk to a serious consideration in times of tighter budgets. Agencies, such as the Office of Personnel Management, have even tried a results-only work environment, or ROWE, in which the only concern is getting results and not how, where or when work is done.
And what is there to not like about a more flexible work environment? For starters, personal branding expert Dan Schawbel listed these three reasons why organizations need to move beyond the traditional workplace and embrace flexibility:
1. Millennials say "no thanks" to jobs that ban social media. A report from Cisco revealed that more than half of millennial workers would choose social-media freedom over a higher salary when considering a job offer. Additionally, a majority said the Internet is an integral part of their lives. "Gen Y-ers wants to be connected to their friends and families, not just their co-workers, throughout the day," Schawbel writes. "Although some companies ban social media at work, other companies have embraced it as long as employees use it professionally."
2. Millennials pick workplace flexibility over more money. Nearly 40 percent of millennial employees would OK lower pay if they had more flexibility on the job, according to a study by Mom Corps. Employees feel they are more respected when they have a flexible work schedule, which in turn leads to more productive workforce, Schawbel writes. Also, "an employer that allows flexibility in the workplace also demonstrates that it understands the evolving modern-day work environment, which bodes well for the future," he notes.
3. Millennials are always wired to their job. With tablets, smart phones and laptops, no one is ever really off the clock, Schawbel says. A generation that grew up with technology and instant access to the Internet is rarely seen without its iPhones or iPads, whether on the job or off. And being constantly tethered to technology blurs the line of work and personal time because "work e-mail doesn’t stop for anything or anyone. By no means does time away from the office equal less work getting done," Schawbel concludes.
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