Generation Y: is your office ready?

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By 2020, millennials will make up half the global workforce.  As they penetrate the corporate world, they will no doubt bring along their preferred communication methods to build a collaborative culture.   

Being raised in an era of ever-evolving personal technology evolution will intrinsically herald the infiltration of those same technology preferences and uses into the working environment. One prime example is using video collaboration technology. Millennials have been using various forms of video chat since they were young, whether through Skype, FaceTime or even gaming. However, this new method of work communication and collaboration may be too big a shift for Baby Boomers and Generation X, who are more used to emailing and picking up the telephone to speak to colleagues and clients. 

Another example is the rapid rise of flexible working environments, which is expected to be the main way of working for 70 per cent of organisations by 2020. To remain competitive and attractive to millennials, businesses will need to consider this way of working. 

What this means for the modern workplace is simple….from video collaboration technology to flexible working, your office needs to be ready to not just offer, but also adapt to, this new workforce preference. 

There are three ways in which millennials’ video obsession is transforming and benefiting the office environment and how you can embrace the new way of work. 

Video is everywhere

More than half (54 per cent) of millennials check YouTube at least once per day and they experiment with emerging video channels like live streaming, confirmed by a USB Evidence Lab report. For millennials, the act of extending this video to the office is done effortlessly. Where older generations may be reluctant to adopt video conferencing technology at work, millennials already understand its ability to make meaningful connections and boost productivity, with little to no training required.

Because of this, video will extend to all corners of the enterprise in a holistic way. Meeting productivity is boosted by face-to-face video conferences no matter the location. Company-wide training and onboarding is done using recorded and live video tutorials. HR uses video conferencing technology to interview new recruits and build strong relationships with current employees. Live-streamed video events are broadcast to thousands of viewers for maximum distribution of company messages. And with the ability to record and share on-demand video meetings, consuming important company information will be done in a way millennials already prefer — via video. 

Simplicity reigns supreme

As millennials have grown up alongside technology, their expectations for the user experience is higher than any previous generation. While millennials have sometimes been labeled lazy by other generations (in all fairness, which generation hasn’t been called lazy by the previous?), to them, it’s more about being efficient. Millennials expect a process to advance from A-Z in the least steps possible. They appreciate technology, like wearables, apps and workflow automation and communication, to aid productivity and streamline the process. 

To rise to the occasion, video conferencing in the office must be a true one-click experience and accessible on whatever device is being used — mobile, laptop or tablet. It will need to be interoperable with other solutions and utilize WebRTC via the web browser to make video chat as simple as possible. To ease IT burdens, video conferencing solutions across the company should be plug-and-play, meaning HD cameras and phones work seamlessly with cloud-based conferencing software no matter what type of room video is desired — huddle, conference, auditorium, etc.   

New workplace environments

Millennials have different expectations when it comes to the work environment. They want a workplace where they feel comfortable, providing them with flexibility and the sense of freedom.   

It’s therefore no surprise, that over the last five to 10 years, the traditional office has given way to a more transient work environment. The growing popularity of flexible working coupled with a mobile, dispersed workforce has decreased the need for separate offices and desk spaces, with businesses now considering alternatives, including hot-desks in open-office environments.   

With many offices transitioning to an open floor plan, it’s more important than ever to have designated collaboration spaces free from noise and distractions. Creating areas, such as huddle rooms, for small groups of three to five people and virtual teams to meet and work together on the fly is an inexpensive and space-saving way forward. 

Businesses of all sizes and industries are moving to this model. In fact, Frost & Sullivan estimates that there are currently 30 million huddle rooms worldwide. Moreover, huddle rooms are arguably the most productive rooms in the building as they provide privacy in collaborative environments and require little physical space (up to 10 – 12sqm). While open-space floor plans are trendy and the desire to create more collaborative, flexible workplaces is strong, cost is essentially an underlying factor driving the increase in open offices. Businesses simply cannot afford to waste office space and employee productivity. With the increase in flexible working, companies are finding they require less square footage per employee in the physical office space. A recent study estimated that flexible working could generate workstation savings of £1.1 billion for the UK economy. This could be a pretty big draw for companies to consider when investing in new workspace environments. 

In addition to providing a flexible meeting space in open floor plans, the huddle room can introduce many benefits to an organisation including greater culture fluidity and collaboration as people sit closer together. 

Video makes work even more meaningful

Long gone are cubicles and clocking in from 9-to-5. For millennials, work is everywhere and constant. They expect work/life balance, and the use of video allows them to meet “in-person” wherever they happen to be — whether via a laptop in a coffee shop, on a tablet at home, or using a smartphone at an airport during a layover.   

Other than being physically together, which is often not possible in today’s global work environment, video is the next best thing for work meetings. It’s engaging, convenient and a boon for productivity. A study by Lifesize found the following to be true about video conferencing and its positive effect on the professional work environment: 

  • 89 per cent of remote employees say that video helps them feel more connected to their colleagues 
  • 87 per cent of employees who join a meeting remotely report feeling better engaged with colleagues through video 
  • 90 per cent say that video makes it easier to get their point across. 

Millennials crave purposeful work, and in today’s distributed workforce, the more virtual “face-to-face” time possible, the more enjoyable the work environment. And while previous generations may be resistant to adoption, old dogs can learn new tricks, especially if it means reaping the productivity benefits of video.    

Bobby Beckmann, CTO at Lifesize   

Image Credit: Startup Stock Photos / Pexels