by Ryan Healy
As Generation Y or the Millennials leave their dorms behind and enter the real world, we are encountering a corporate world that is, for the most part, still stuck in its outdated ways. By the time my generation is given the reins, work will barely resemble today’s office environment. It’s not because we are special or better than any other generation. It’s because we are entering the work force at the time that the web is revolutionizing work.
What does Gen Y want from work? The same things many web workers look for: the ability to work wherever they like, an identity that isn’t defined by a particular profession, and flexible ways of experimenting with entrepreneurship even while benefiting from traditional employment.
Increased trust between employer and employee. Most people I know, myself included, truly believe they are more productive and happier when working from somewhere other than the standard workplace environment. Whether it’s home, Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, or the beach, as most of you know, there is something refreshing and relaxing about not being stuck in an office. Cubicle farms are a thing of the past, nobody likes them and thanks to new technologies the majority of companies don’t even need them.
These remote working arrangements will completely depend on trust between employer and employee. If I cannot be trusted to get things done without supervision, I do not deserve to have a job, and I will not have a job. Isn’t this what college is for though? We prove our ability to succeed on our own and it is reflected in our GPAs and non school activities. With the increased use of virtual offices, there is no need to be micromanaged at work any longer. Trust me!
Jobs no longer define who we are. “What do you do?” is often the first question people pose to one another during an introduction. Lately, I have had a hard time coming up with a straight answer to this question. I have my “real” career, but I spend a heck of a lot of time writing, networking and creating new plans for the future of my blog, Employee Evolution.
I now tell people I am a consultant, writer and aspiring entrepreneur. I consider myself all of these things. If I am comfortable enough to tell people this, then it must be true. Right?
Anyone can be whatever they want thanks to the power of the web. Creating a business, website or blog is so simple that we can all play multiple roles. As Gen Y continues to enter the workforce, our day jobs will no longer define who we are.
Entrepreneurship in the workplace. I don’t need a business plan and I don’t need millions or even hundreds of thousands to ditch the boring paychecks. I can even continue collecting a paycheck and make some extra money on the side. My very unscientific estimate of young people I know who plan to start a business at some point is eight out of ten. It’s no longer a risky dream. Starting a business is a reasonably cheap and attainable reality. The days of keeping top employees around with a 5% raise or a promotion to the corner office are dead.
To keep young workers around companies will have to compete with young people’s motivation and impatience. In other words, companies must feed our urge to jump ship and start a business, by giving us the opportunity to come up with an idea and have free rein over development, implementation and follow through. Logic tells us that companies should not “train” young employees to be entrepreneurs for fear of losing them. However, I can guarantee that retention rates will increase as employees no longer feel the need to leave a company that provides them with intrapreneurial opportunities. This is quite ironic when you think about it.
These are just a handful of the hundreds of differences between today’s work environment and the old days of 9 to 5 in a cube. As Gen Y continues to learn, grow and mature into executives and VPs I hope that we embrace the evolution and revolution.
Ryan Healy blogs at Employee Evolution.