“Millennial” has become the number #1 buzzword in the business world. Every company is desperately trying to answer the million-dollar (or in some cases, billion-dollar) question of “How do we market to this unique and elusive generation?”
As a millennial myself, it’s hard to turn a blind eye to the countless newspapers, magazines, and bloggers who make a living out of telling me (and my peers) who I am, what I like, and where my future lies. My generation is the trendy topic, but it’s sometimes frustrating when the people who claim to have unlocked the key to understanding millennials everywhere, aren’t millennials themselves.
This past December, I went back home to Dallas, TX for my month-long winter break and simultaneously started working as a marketing intern for FormAssembly. At first, I was skeptical about working remotely even though every article I read was telling me that this type of work would be my future. Now, 6 weeks later, I’m able to balance interning part-time with being a full-time student, a second job, and lots of other involvement, and I can wholeheartedly agree that the remote life is the best life.
So here’s my perspective, from one millennial to all the others (and any company out there trying to catch our attention), about why this style of work is awesome and why we should be excited that companies are becoming more open to telecommunication.
Work-life balance is our #1 priority
Nearly one-third of millennials say that managing their work, family, and personal responsibilities has become more difficult in the past 5 years, so finding a way to balance all three is mission numero uno when job-hunting. We care about building our careers and doing work we’re passionate about, but we don’t want to cut out our family and friends in the process.
It’s also becoming more common for couples to both maintain full-time jobs, even after marrying and having kids. Working remotely has redefined the typical stay-at-home mom or dad for the better.
In addition, we want the time to spend on personal skills training and development. Our commitment to living a healthy lifestyle is stronger than ever before and has become a crucial component of our daily schedule. We are dedicated to exercising and eating healthily, and we need the time to do so.
Finally, we want the flexibility to live wherever we want. We don’t know where life is going to take us and that’s okay when our jobs can follow us wherever we go.
We have different spending habits
With tuition having risen 306% for public universities and 210% for private universities over the past 20 years (not including room, board, and everything else), AND the fact that we’re having to spend 58% more on rent than the Boomer generation, it’s no wonder that our spending habits have changed. With all these extra expenses, we’re now using our limited disposable income to pay for more experiences and less “things.” We’re constantly looking for ways to save money and increase convenience.
What does working remotely have to do with this? Whether you’re working out of your apartment, your favorite coffee shop, or local coworking space, choosing where you work means you can choose whether or not to pay for certain things.
For me, the biggest money (and life) saver is not having to commute. While gas prices may be low right now, that $30 I spend to sit in traffic for an hour is better served going towards my “travel the world” fund. Not to mention that I’d rather have that extra time in the morning to cook myself a real breakfast and start my day (or sleep in, for the night owls reading this).
Technology is something else we’re willing to spend on, so buying that high-speed laptop and WiFi plan is more than worth it when it’s helping you work more efficiently and comfortably.
We believe (and want to prove) that work can happen anywhere
While everyone is scrambling to figure out how to catch our attention, there are a lot of derogatory opinions out there about our generation. I’ve lost count of how many articles I’ve read calling us lazy, impatient, and unable to communicate (and those were the nice ones).
Maybe I’m biased, but I highly disagree with those views. In fact, I see how connected our generation is as a huge positive. We’re so comfortable with facilitating virtual communication that we can truly work anywhere. We embrace and love collaborative technology. We’re results-oriented, more independent, and adaptable because we have no other choice if we want to stand a chance in the highly competitive job market and rapidly changing times.
When I started working remotely, my friends asked me how I could possibly be productive with no one to constantly monitor what I’m doing. What I quickly learned is that I have to be my own “remote boss.” Not working in an office means I’m completely responsible for my own prioritization and accountability. I have no one else to motivate me to wake up in the morning but myself (although being able to do cool work does help a lot), and I’m all the more driven for that very reason.
If you still don’t believe me, read about how one company’s remote employees didn’t just “match up” to the on-site employees — rather, they outperformed them.
Flexible employers = flexible employees
At the end of the day, you have to accept the inevitable. Remote is the new black, and companies that resist this movement towards increased flexibility will only damage their ability to remain competitive and hire top talent in the future. For tech startups like Upworthy, InVisionApp, and Zapier, working remotely has become a way of life, but they’re not alone. Forbes recently released a list of 100 companies that offer either partial or full telecommuting options. The majority of these are large corporations, showing that when it comes to working remotely, size really doesn’t matter.
How to do it right
From my experience so far, there are a few key behaviors that I believe companies should employ to really help remote work, work.
- Have a high degree of trust in the people you hire. When recruiting, look for those with a history of behaving responsibly and independently. Hire doers and self-motivators, but make sure to set clear expectations from the beginning. If your employees know what you want and that you trust them to get it done, they’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen.Also, if your company isn’t 100% remote, make sure you create an equal amount of opportunities for those in and out-of-office. No one should be penalized because they’re not physically there.
- Communicate efficiently and effectively. Use collaborative technology to help maintain an inclusive environment. There’s something for everything, so take advantage of all the resources you have at your fingertips. To give some examples, we use Flowdock for internal communication, Basecamp for project management, Box for our files, and Google Hangouts and GoToMeeting for meetings.
- Take the necessary security precautions. This one is self-explanatory. With people all over the country (or the world in some cases), it’s crucial that the information you’re working with is protected.
- Schedule regular meetings/check-ins. Facetime is important, even if it’s through a computer screen. Take the time to have 1-on-1 meetings and encourage feedback sessions. It doesn’t hurt to just chat and get to know each other either.
- Find ways to bridge the gap. Being remote can get lonely sometimes, but that just opens up the door to get creative. This past holiday season, we did a worldwide (from Alaska to Australia) Secret Santa. CultureIQ sends a photo on Slack of their “office” for the day and Help Scout does regular “Friday Fikas” — virtual 1-on-1s with random team members where you get to know each other over tea and coffee. Company retreats are another great way to help your employees bond.
As a final note, if you’ve read this whole article and you’re still not convinced, that’s totally fine. Remote work is definitely not for everyone and luckily, the business world is nowhere near reaching 100% telecommunication.