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Millennials say 'no thanks' to 9-5

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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Reader comments

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 FED ROWE Specialist

I have to agree with Female Fed. Good luck to thos BB and Gen Xr's who can't keep up. These Millenials will spin circles around you with productivity given the right tools. The question is "can the government keep up with the productivity tools?" And to Engineer....your outdated thinking is costing taxpayers millions of wasted dollars....get your projects in line and controlled with start and end dates so that you are able to telework and create a ROWE environment. To Ammo Joe time to get with the times and create a LIFE for your family who should be first on your list.

Fri, Jan 6, 2012

SUCCESSFUL teleworking requires careful task selection and due consideration to the collaborative needs of the job at hand - by Workers and Management. I love the flexibility to telework - but only do it a few times a year - when the task is one suited to (or needs) total isolation and fredom from interruptions.

Wed, Jan 4, 2012

Some interesting points are made for and against telework. If this is what the millenials are accustomed to, then I say it's no problem, as long as they can manage their time effectively. Also, one side affect of allowing telework is that everyone who's currently under water with their mortgage right now, and therefore can't afford to move to where the jobs are located, could have more employment options (but that's not really a gen Y issue yet, is it?). In my opinion: a good, hard working employee will be productive either at home or in the office, while a bad and/or lazy employee will likewise be non-productive in either location. At least with a telework arrangement, it can be harder for a poorly performing employee to distract or otherwise slow down a high performing employee who works on the same team with them.

Wed, Jan 4, 2012 Ammo Joe

So, we're not only going to get less pay for MORE work and be available 24/7/365? I don't think anybody will go for that. I have two gen."Y" children and they wouldn't stand for that. Your going to monitor the actual work time how? And if they are union employees look out! I like keeping my work at work and social/home at home brings less conflict with family and friends. So what if they have to wait a few hours till you get home or a few minutes during your work day to CALL them and talk.

Wed, Jan 4, 2012 Engineer

Maybe I'm old be it. As an engineering supervisor however,(airborne electronics design) I have the stats to back up the drop in productivity when flex-time started. Not being able to count on personnel availability to hash out complicated design issues between team members only adds to already complex projects. Let one key team member decide to flex his work time on a critical day and the whole project is delayed. Some careers may benifit from flex time but not all. I, also, resent the implications from the article that we've been doing it wrong (9to5) all this time. Millennials have very little respect for experience and this will bite them in the future.

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