The Australian work place is changing. There is a trend of workers requiring more and more flexibility in how they engage in the work place. Called millennials, this generation of “digital natives” has always had internet and mobile phones and based on research expect a greater work/life balance.
Depending on which report you read, millennials now make up over 30% of the work force and with an ageing population by 2020 this figure will be more than 50%. Organisations need to plan for this new generation and engage them through greater workplace flexibility.
In some Australian capital cities there are some very practical reasons why organisations need to provide flexibility for staff to work outside of the office.
- Rising house prices in most capital cities, is seeing more people move to fringe areas to afford the home they want.
- An SHTS report in 2012 highlighted an increase in bus travel distance as these workers travel from new locations. More time spent travelling means less time parents have to spend with their families.
- People are looking to balance their lifestyle and the needs of raising a family with a desire for career progression while being faced with increasing travel times and the demands of a global market and need to be contacted 24-7.
- An ABS report shows over 250,000 Victorians sought to change their working conditions stating child care needs as the main reason for their most recent request.
- Of employees on long-term leave who made a request for changes to work arrangements; more family time and financial reasons (both 16%) were the most commonly reported reasons for the request. This followed by leisure or travel, and child care needs (both 11%).
Employers need to be able to provide flexibility in how employees work. In an environment where collaboration drives greater productivity, organisations need to find solutions to have employees engaged whilst not physically in an office.
Part of the answer is to implement the right kind of technology that is going to empower, engage and free employees.
Organisations need to look for a platform that enables unified communications and collaboration. Some current options include complex remote access solutions, forwarding calls to mobiles, and or providing a company mobile so organisations don’t lose control over inbound customer contacts. If the technology is not seamless, uptake rates are low and the project fails to deliver.
Look for a unified communications solution that can seamlessly provide:
- Single number reach across multiple devices. Customers can continue to engage with a corporate office number.
- Access to the corporate environment whilst not in the office to still remain part of the internal phone network.
- Presence and the ability to integrate with other systems.
- Instant Messaging to keep informal lines of communication open.
- Video on demand, both one on one and group sessions. The ability to have visual cues when engaging is still critically important.
- The ability to run ad-hoc virtual meetings. Often there isn’t time to have to book resources to run a video conference.
- The ability to share documents and workspaces in real time without the need for additional emails and the time delay.
- Cloud based technology to make access ubiquitous and avoid complex log in procedures.
Whilst technology won’t work without the right processes, policies, support and leadership, it can make the transition towards a flexible workplace rewarding for both the employee and organisation.