How many of you work a standard 9 to 5 job? And of those who answered yes, how many wish that weren’t the case? I’m guessing there are a lot of hands up to the second question, and I am right there with you. Improvements in technology over the last couple of decades have made it possible for you to keep up with your work and not be tied to an office. As an example, I’m currently sitting on my deck, in the sun, on a Monday while writing this post (thank you laptop, WiFi, and flexible job). The younger generations have different views on work and how it fits into their life. Just look around the internet at all the bloggers, social media consultants, etc. who have built up a career for themselves in a field that didn’t even exist a few years ago. Entrepreneurship is at an all-time high, and this is forcing employers to adapt.
I’ve been on both sides. My last job was the traditional 8 hour work day with very limited flexibility…basically, if the office was open I was in it. The upside was that I never ever took work home with me. When I walked out that door, I was officially off the clock. The downside was that whole having to be in the office 8 hours a day thing. Need to go to the dentist? Get approval from the boss. Want to go out for lunch? Make sure you’re back by 1 pm. Finished everything you have to do? Look busy. None of this makes much sense and ends up only breeding resentment. When I switched jobs a year and a half ago, my new position came with a lot more flexibility, but it also means I need to stay on top of things no matter where I am. For me, there’s no question I prefer this arrangement, and I think most of you will be with me.
“Millennials do not believe that productivity should be measured by the number of hours worked at the office, but by the output of the work performed. They view work as a ‘thing’ and not a ‘place.’” (Source)
I think this quote is SO on point! I’ve never really considered it, but I absolutely consider work a ‘thing’ and not a ‘place’. Creating work/life balance has become such an important factor that companies are putting together teams to figure out what they need to do to keep their employees happy. And they don’t really have a choice. It is estimated that by 2025 Millennials will make up 75% of the labour force, and you sure don’t want to piss off three-quarters of your staff.
A significant factor in the reason why workplace standards in regards to flexibility are changing is because Millennials are much less willing to stay in a job that doesn’t make them happy. I’m an exception to this rule and have a history of being loyal to jobs that make me miserable; mostly because I really, really hate job hunting. Most people my age though are willing to jump between jobs until they find the right fit. Jobs with strict schedules and a lack of flextime and work at home options are being passed over for companies offering a more forward thinking approach.
Flex-Time / Working from Home
I am a big fan of flexible hours and will happily answer a few emails after dinner if it means I don’t have to stay at the office past three in the afternoon. For me, this is a great perk, but it becomes a significantly more important issue for parents. Kids get sick, they perform in school plays or on sports teams, and they also get a summer vacation. Having an employer who understands this and lets you take off a random Tuesday morning to chaperone a field trip is a big deal. And really, as long as the work is getting done, does it really matter when or where it happens?
There’s a lot of people who love the idea of rolling out of bed and into their home office without even changing out of their pyjamas…I’m not that person. I have a hard enough time getting myself to write a blog post while I’m at home, let alone trying to focus on my real job. Sure, answering a few emails and dealing with any urgent is one thing but there are just too many distractions. There’s always a pile of laundry to deal with, or groceries to shop for, or (more commonly) a new show on Netflix to binge. I like having an office to go to for getting the real work done. I think it also helps with keeping boundaries between home and work. If your office is the dining room table, then it’s just that much harder to put all your focus into the life part instead of the work part.
One of the main reasons any of this is even possible is because almost all of us carry around a little device in our pocket that connects us to everything, including the office. I will be the first to admit that my phone is a lifeline for me, and not always in a good way. The amount of time I waste browsing social media is a problem, but I’m not willing to part with that instant access to information. Plus, internet friends are a real thing!
This also means that you are at the beck and call of your boss. I do not have this problem (we are pretty strict about out of the office meaning do not contact), but I know this is a challenge for other people. At the bf’s last job this was a huge issue, and it used to make me crazy. He would check his work email before bed and would still wake up to a full inbox first thing in the morning. That is a stressful way to live! Social media can be especially bad for this. Take a look at the mentions for any mid to large sized company and you’ll find an endless stream of questions, complaints and a few compliments and I can guarantee that almost all those people want a near instant response (I know I’m guilty of expecting that!) Remember when restaurants used to offer those complaint cards you could fill it at the end of your meal? Now Twitter is where everyone goes to air their frustrations about disappointing service…and everyone else can see it. As we’ve seen, companies can go viral for their good (Wendy’s) or bad (United Airlines) handling of situations on social media.
You don’t have to bring them into this just because you forgot refrigerators existed for a second there.
— Wendy’s (@Wendys) January 2, 2017
So what do you guys think? What work/life factors are most important to you and are they available at your current job?