How technology providers will have to adapt to the millennial workplace

Millennials are in the workplace, and they’re here to stay. Last year, they surpassed Baby Boomers in the U.S. workforce. And they’re on the rise around the world: they’ll make up half of the global workforce by 2020.

They’re tech-savvy and expect the companies they work for to be too. They’re used to finding work-arounds to use the tools they want. Millennials are pushing IT departments and external providers to “up their game,” leading the changes in how we work together.

Millennials are driving workplace transformation

Millennials use a range of communication methods, sometimes within the same conversation. They like to work in teams. In fact, 88 per cent of millennials prefer collaborative work environments. Millennials are embracing the “work wherever, whenever” possibilities that technology is unlocking. They’re the most likely to check email outside working hours – and most likely to do so on a mobile device. And according to PwC, nearly half of millennials prefer to converse using technology rather than face-to-face or on the phone. Millennials might use chat apps or IM to have a casual conversation. But, they might then change to a video call if needing to discuss sensitive topics. Video lets them pick up non-verbal cues that could be lost on the phone.

This means bandwidth is key. Over the last 8 years, we have seen traffic grow by 150,000 per cent on the AT&T network – due largely to video. Screen sharing, real-time communication and video traffic are data-hungry tools, and millennials will not stand for dropped connections or slow speeds. In fact, neither will “generation X” or “baby boomer” users. That means they need high quality, consistent connectivity.

At AT&T, we’re helping companies facing bandwidth challenges. We have solutions that can scale up or down as needed. This means our customers only pay for what they need. We’re also shifting toward software-defined networking (SDN) to handle the ebbs and flows of data traffic. By tapping into creative problem solving like this, and following these 4 guidelines, workplaces can help keep their millennial employees engaged, productive and collaborating.

  1. Worldwide collaboration brings benefits.

The benefits of the millennial mindset are clearest for global companies. Video conferencing can reduce air miles and sharing files in the cloud can make work more efficient. Modern businesses need to be able to communicate across time zones and continents. This makes collaboration technologies essential.

Easy collaboration solutions help team members work together. They’ll be able to team using the tools of the organisation, not external apps to conduct sensitive business.

  1. Security will become more complex.

Data and information sharing is normal among today’s younger workforce. However, as the volume of data traffic increases and the number of devices used to communicate data increases, the risk for that data to be compromised by attackers also increases. IT managers need to find new solutions to protect their company’s data. AT&T NetBond, for example, extends VPN and isolates traffic to and from the cloud.

On top of these vulnerabilities from inside the organisation, companies are more and more under attacks from the outside. We’ve seen a 62 per cent growth in attempted DDoS attacks across our network in the last 2 years. We expect this to continue. Businesses need to protect without hindering collaboration.

  1. Collaboration solutions need to be compatible.

Using different solutions providers should not limit employees from using their advanced collaboration capabilities. This means hardware, software and network providers will need to work together to offer all customers a high-quality collaboration experience. Customers should be able to use their existing voice and collaboration technology to work with other parts of the organisation or other companies.

  1. IT departments will need to stay one step ahead.

Millennials are used to being the first to test out new technology. They pride themselves on being early adapters and want to find the most efficient route to a solution. This sometimes means working outside of the organisation’s boundaries. In order to keep this generation’s communications secure, IT departments will need to innovate continually for useful, business-ready technologies. External providers can offer support and advice to internal IT managers, learning from best practices around the industry.

This is a transformative time for IT departments. They must shift from the old IT model focused on infrastructure, to the new model focused on transforming the way we work. Fast-paced change is a guarantee. And technology will only become more important to how we work together.

As millennials move from entry-level to executive, companies that embrace the workplace changes they’re driving will be better positioned to thrive in the years ahead.

Vishy Gopalakrishnan, AVP of Voice & Collaboration, AT&T

Photo credit: Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock