A Brave New Workplace
Here’s how companies can embrace working with millennials and their unique perspective of the world.
As I look around my office, I am surrounded by millennials, most of them in their early to mid-20s, and what amazes me is how uniquely they are approaching life at this age vs. what I remember of myself at that same age.
So often in business we hear stories of millennials not knowing how to work in the corporate world, that they are ‘difficult to manage,’ that they require a certain level of pandering for them to achieve…anything. This may be true in certain instances, but what I see in my day-to-day are men and women who are using the collaborative economy as a foundation to re-create the workplace – and by extension their ‘American Dream.’
The Collaborative Economy of Home Ownership
Most the millennials in my office are homeowners or soon to be homeowners. It was not so long ago that the American dream of home-ownership seemed out of reach for most people. What is different about my co-workers is their revised approach to ownership. Almost all of them have purchased their homes with the intent to rent out rooms to others. They are practical. They get that the traditional approach to home ownership doesn’t really work anymore so they’ve switched it around. They want the benefits of owning property with the cushion of others helping to pay their way.
Traveling the World with the Help of Strangers
Travel is huge among millennials but seeing the world is much more personal than it was for those of us with Eurail pass and a passport. AirBnB, CouchSurfing, HomeAway, and so many others not only bring the travel experience to life, they make the travel experience that much more personal. Similarly, Lyft, Uber, Bla Bla Car, and the many other vehicle share services create a pop-up community for travelers.
The adventure is there, as well as the opportunity to connect with others. Many years ago, I attended summer camps that included kids from the U.S. and Europe. The camps were started after World War II on the idea that if you had friends in other countries, you wouldn’t want to go to war with those countries. In many ways, this new approach to travel is the same. Although a traveler may not actually meet the person whose home they are sharing, they connect in a way that is personal and builds trust – how can you not when you’re borrowing someone’s sheets and towels?
Stepping Aside to Bring New Techniques Forward
Our office is cool.
It has all the trappings of an awesome place to work from the open floor plan and reclaimed wood walls to the dog-Friday policy and flexible work schedules. This however is not what has brought our millennial talent to life. We trust them to be smarter than us on the topics they live and breathe, particularly social media and new technologies. We can educate them on the foundations of research, but we try to get out of the way and let them lead when it comes to new techniques and research approaches.
As qualitative researchers, our clients task us to see things differently, explore various points of view, and make them aware of emerging trends. Our job as researchers is to keep an open mind to possibility and change. By including millennials in the design and delivery of projects, we don’t just talk about ‘what that generation is doing,’ we see, experience, and live it firsthand. My younger colleagues’ approach to work, life, and leisure helps keep our company’s approach to research fresh and current, the insights we bring to our clients relevant and actionable.
How have you seen your millennial coworkers or employees creating positive change in your work culture? Comment below!