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WORKSPAN
Future Look |

Increasing Millennial Influence Could Result in More Remote Work


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Providing work-life effectiveness for employees is a priority for many organizations. How they achieve this varies, but offering flexibility is usually a common component.

Studies show that flexibility is one of the most important factors Millennials (1981-96) use to evaluate a job opportunity. Furthermore, 34% report leaving a job because the employer did not provide flexibility.

Millennials make up about a third of today’s workforce and that figure will continue to rise. Yet the full-scale ability to work remotely still isn’t as prevalent as one might think. A survey from Flex+Strategy Group found that 34% of U.S. workers reported doing most of their work remotely. Analysis from Mercer indicates it’s much less than that. 

“Remote working is picking up steam, but it really hasn’t grown all that much,” said Susan Haberman, senior partner and U.S. career leader at Mercer. “Our data suggests fewer than 10% of the overall workforce actually do remote working in any formal way.”

WorldatWork’s “Total Rewards Inventory and Practices 2018” survey found that 78% of companies surveyed allowed some form of telework, while 57% have full-time remote workers.

Part of what is tripping up the transition to widespread acceptance of teleworking is the way in which employers handle it. Haberman said most organizations’ remote working policy is left up to individual managers, which has proven wildly ineffective. Therefore, it would behoove organizations to apply a more analytical approach in identifying which jobs are more conducive to remote work.

“What we’re finding is to make remote working work, you have to take that decision out of the hands of managers,” Haberman said. “You have to think about what are the jobs that can be adapted to different work environments. Because it’s not going away and it’s important to employees. It’s a great value-proposition for employees.”

The other element of this equation, which could see rapid change in the future, is the undeniable generational difference that exists in the workforce. Many of the decision makers are from older generations and tend to be less accepting of remote work.

“There’s a perception that is hard to overcome: When you are remote working, are you actually ‘working?,’” Haberman said. “The more senior people and managers in general are older and they’re working with a Millennial workforce and the next generation down who are used to being mobile, so I think that’s where some of the conflict takes place.”  

Change is likely on the horizon. According to Upwork’s “Future Workforce Report,” which surveyed more than 1,000 U.S.-based managers, 48% were Millennials or Gen Z. A majority (69%) of those younger generation managers have remote workers. Younger generation managers are also 28% more likely to utilize remote workers than Baby Boomers and believe that two out of five full-time employees will work remotely within the next three years.

“I do think that you will see that this will continue to accelerate,” Haberman said. “Because as the younger generation becomes managers, you are going to see that they are more comfortable with it.”

Why Working From Home Is Good For Business 

REMOTE ROUNDUP

The Millennial Effect

Using various workplace studies, Karen Gilchrist writes about how Millennials and Gen Z are reshaping the future of the workforce. One of the ways Gilchrist lists in her CNBC piece is remote working. Gilchrist cites research that projects by 2028, 73% of all teams are expected to have remote workers.

The New Normal

The future of remote work is happening now, writes Scott Mautz in this Inc.com piece. Mautz touches on the various ways in which people work remotely, noting that companies are looking for ways to accommodate for much more than just working from home. Mautz cites research that found hiring managers believe remote work will change the nature of work more than A.I. 

A Remote Court

An Atlanta-based company has launched a new service that will allow its certified court stenographers to work remotely, reports Victoria Hudgins of Law.com. Esquire Deposition Solutions is utilizing video technology that will allow stenographers to swear in witnesses from their living room if they choose to do so. The hope is that the increased flexibility will boost future interest in the job.

Bank Backtracks

The Bank of New York Mellon Corp. informed its employees in November that it would be reviewing their ability to work from home. However, because of fierce pushback, CEO Charlie Scharff emailed his 51,300 employees that he had decided to “hit pause on implementing any changes to remote working arrangements,” reports Bloomberg’s Will Hadfield. Employees in the United Kingdom and Belgium had been told to end their work-from-home arrangements by June.

Organizational Adaptation

Remote work is desirable by an overwhelming majority (89%) of UK workers, therefore it is critical for businesses to build a resilient, adaptable workforce that is readily equipped to maintain optimum performance, writes Training Zone’s Oliver Barber. In the piece, Barber delves into how technological advancements have made effective remote work possible, but he says it’s up to organizations to proceed properly.  

About the Author

Brett Christie is a staff writer at WorldatWork.