Have millennials turned us all into mobile workers?

Workforce changes driven by millennials are forcing companies to re-evaluate how they interact with mobile technology. But despite this fundamental shift in how workers engage with technology, 83% of companies do not have a mobile enterprise strategy.

Where they have been embracing this technology, it has been in a largely reactive manner and, as a result, their ICT infrastructures is not agile or able to adapt to this workforce.

This first generation of mobile-native employees is forcing businesses to incorporate mobile working and technology into their overall benefit package. They are reaping the rewards as they see improved motivation and productivity as a ‘work from anywhere’ culture is adopted.

Those organisations that embrace a clear mobile strategy are the ones that will attract the best talent, as employees seek out employers offering mobile working as a de facto part of the job.

However, whilst millennial employees are expecting a more mobile oriented job potential employers are, in exchange, demanding a high level of performance and dedication.

>See also: 10 ways to keep Millennials happy in the workplace

This shift in attitude towards working culture and mobility is also dictating IT purchasing decisions. The mobile-first generation are used to accessing their data and communications tools on any device, on any platform, at any time from wherever they happen to be.

They expect to be able to collaborate with colleagues in real-time. As this is an intrinsic part of their approach to work, they don’t want physical eyes babysitting their work.

There is an expectation of trust and that the technology does in fact allow for a certain amount of personal accountability on their part, and a certain amount of supervision through that technology on the company’s part.

In essence, millennials expect mobile working to be an intrinsic part of any role and it is increasingly likely to dictate which employers they apply to work with.

It would appear many businesses are taking heed of this by investing in agile, cloud-enabled infrastructures that can transform them into a mobile-first organisation.

The average worker first checks their emails shortly after waking up and therefore starts their working day far earlier than they would have before smartphones ruled the roost.

The lines are blurring between work and leisure time because they can start working at the gym or on the train, and will often be on email in the evenings.

The knock-on effect of this is that the millennial generation has become less concerned about punctuality in terms of arriving in the office. Their obsession with smartphones and tablets has left millennials struggling to balance the ‘always on’ culture that they have precipitated, with their desire to maintain a work-life balance.

Some employers are recognising this shift as it dovetails well with companies who are abandoning traditional pay scales and benefit packages. Some companies are even allowing for unlimited vacation, paying at the 75th percentile and higher, and are allowing employees to purchase healthcare that fits the specific needs of the employee.

However, the work-life balance isn’t necessarily working everywhere. Many businesses and even governments have taken drastic action in a bid to redress the issue of the always-on employee.

In 2014, French Unions signed a legally binding agreement that encouraged some staff to turn off their phones after 6pm. However, some companies have gone a step further and have disabled email being sent to mobile devices after a certain time in a bid to stop employees suffering burnout, and the ‘right to disconnect’ is currently being debated in the French Parliament.

This can create a tension in the workplace with many baby boomers and ‘generation X’ members questioning the productivity of millennials if they are remotely logged in, rather than being in the office.

The lack of trust is fostered by a fear that when not under the glare of their peers and managers, working from home will in reality be slang for a day off.

Yet mobility is the technological advancement in this new accountability model – it’s the flexibility employees seek and the tether to those employees that companies still require to maintain high levels of performance.

In the same way millennials want to be mobile, management need to adapt and evolve their style and mindset to embrace the mobile future of business.

The growth of cloud-based enterprise collaboration software is helping to manage this mobile working and mitigate concerns about productivity – this also underlines the importance of a company having a robust mobile strategy.

There is never an excuse for remote workers not to be able to access the files they need or to be able to collaborate in real time with colleagues, regardless of where they are located.

Equally, advances in real-time collaboration and messaging software enable colleagues to collaborate on projects in real time in a transparent manner. 

Additionally, team leaders and managers can, if necessary, monitor when employees are working on these documents and what the engagement levels are with them.

>See also: How to tap into the Millennial learning style with 'microlearning'

The mobile enterprise has not just changed the way in which existing employees interact with companies – it is also transforming the way in which businesses recruit.

By investing in agile mobile-enabled infrastructure, firms gain access to a global pool of talent as the geographic barrier to employment is removed.

It is no longer the case that the best person who lives within a commutable distance will be employed – the connected and networked world is a recruiter’s oyster.

Millennials have been a key driver of change within the workplace. They picked up the baton from generation X and have continued to force through change in enterprise technology and working patterns.

Subsequently, the structure of businesses and the way people work have irreversibly changed. Now it’s the turn of the enterprise to make the changes necessary to compete in a rapidly changing, mobile-first world.

Mobile working has become an intrinsic part our daily lives and even if you are not employed as a ‘mobile worker’ in its traditional sense, you will in reality function as one.


Sourced from Tom Lokar, chief HR officer, Mitel

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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