Largely defined as those born in 1982 and approximately 20 years thereafter, millennials are estimated to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. Take a quick glance around the workplaces of today and you’ll likely notice the office crawling with them, from the shop floor all the way to the boardroom. As their numbers increase, businesses need to start understanding their expectations, the sort of work they do and their working style, to get the most out of this dynamic workforce.

While millennials are widely known for their ambition and drive, they’re also known to move on quickly from an organisation if their expectations are not being met. In fact, when asked, 38 percent of millennials globally said that they would leave their jobs within two years if given the choice. Organisers need to start recognising that it takes more than a paycheck or employee benefits to engage the new wave of talent and secure their future pipeline. Millennials want to work for something they believe in – more than that, they want to do good work, and they want to do it well. So how do businesses keep this generation – the savviest, best-educated generation to date – involved, productive, and engaged?

Enabling seamless collaboration

Millennials and top-down, hierarchical management don’t go together — as an independent, tech-savvy, and self-confident group, they don’t always recognise the person with the highest title to be the de facto leader. They tend to lead from the middle, preferring a collaborative approach instead. In this way, everyone has something to contribute and gets to put forward their opinions, allowing the very best ideas to rise to the top.

A mobile-first workforce

For a generation that grew up during a time of rapid digital change, millennials have seen technology advance by leaps and bounds. From the introduction of cable television, to the internet, and all the way to self-driving cars, they remain firm believers in the power of technology, and the way it has helped to enrich our lives, both inside and outside the workplace.

As a mobile-first generation, millennials approach their workplace with a strong desire for flexibility. Hence, traditional office environments which require employees to sit in a cubicle from 9am – 6pm, using a company-issued device, need to change in order to keep up with these demands. Organisations should look into shifting their technologies into a cloud-based channel, allowing employees the flexibility to work where they want and how they want, from whichever device they prefer.

Offices of the future

From surfing the web, listening to music, and IM-ing their teammates, all while responding to emails demanding their attention, you could say that millennials have developed a habit of doing several things at once. There’s no denying that their ease with technology has made them superb multitaskers — now, with the arrival of voice activated intelligent assistants, who knows how much more they can achieve?

Innovations like Siri, Cortana, Google Home and Alexa have heralded in an exciting time for the use of virtual assistants in smart homes, and it doesn’t stop there. The way we’ve started interacting with voice controlled technology to accomplish simple tasks or obtain information, only signals that it’s about to take centre stage in the workplace too.

Perhaps our offices of the future will start to recognise us in time to come – they might even become intuitive enough to automatically tailor our respective environments to suit our needs. Until then, millennials continue to bring unique challenges to the workforce, and businesses need to learn to adapt in order to keep pace with their demands, or risk being left behind.

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