Passing the Torch
In 2016, millennials surpassed the Baby Boomers as the largest generation in American history. As they continue to infiltrate the corporate world, their collaboration and communication preferences are coming along with them.
The millennial generation, which is defined as “those ages 27-42 in 2023,” grew up in the era of personal computers, the internet and smartphones, and technology dictates both their personal and work lives simultaneously. While this new way of work may be a real shift for Baby Boomers and Generation X, the communication tools and flexible work environment millennials demand are here to stay.
For instance, using video collaboration technology is a common way of life for millennials. Posting, watching and calling via video are more common among millennial smartphone users than any other age group, according to NPD Group, and this trend shows no signs of slowing.
Let me share three ways in which millennials’ video obsession is transforming and benefiting the office environment and how you can embrace the way of work.
Video Is Everywhere.
Millennials have been using various forms of video chat since they were young, whether through Skype, FaceTime or even Gaming. Also, over half (54%) of millennials check YouTube at least once per day and they experiment with emerging YouTube channels like live streaming, confirmed by a USB Evidence Lab report finding that 63 percent of US internet users (18 to 34) have watched live video. For millennials, the act of extending this video to the office is done effortlessly. Where older generations may be reluctant to adopt video conferencing technology at work, millennials already understand its ability to make meaningful connections and boost productivity, with little to no training required.
Because of this, video will extend to all corners of the enterprise in a holistic way. Meeting productivity is boosted by face-to-face video conferences no matter the location. Company-wide training and onboarding is done using recorded and live video tutorials. HR uses video conferencing technology to interview new recruits and build strong relationships with current employees. Live-streamed video events are broadcast to thousands of viewers for maximum distribution of company messages. And with the ability to record and share on-demand video meetings, consuming important company information will be done in a way millennials already prefer — via video.
Simplicity Reigns Supreme.
As millennials have grown up alongside technology, their expectations for the user experience is higher than any previous generation. While millennials have sometimes been labeled lazy by other generations (in all fairness, which generation hasn’t been called lazy by the previous?), to them, it’s more about being efficient. Millennials expect a process to advance from A-Z in the least steps possible. They appreciate technology, like wearables, apps and workflow automation and communication, to aid productivity and streamline the process.
To rise to the occasion, video conferencing in the office must be a true one-click experience and accessible on whatever device is being used — mobile, laptop or tablet. It will need to be interoperable with other solutions and utilize WebRTC via the web browser to make video chat as simple as possible. To ease IT burdens, video conferencing solutions across the company should be plug-and-play, meaning HD cameras and phones work seamlessly with cloud-based conferencing software no matter what type of room video is desired — huddle, conference, auditorium, etc.
Video Makes Work Even More Meaningful.
Long gone are cubicles and clocking in from 9-to-5. For millennials, work is everywhere and constant. They expect work/life balance, and the use of video allows them to meet “in-person” wherever they happen to be — whether via laptop in a coffee shop, on a tablet at home, or using a smartphone at an airport during a layover.
Other than being physically together, which is often not possible in today’s global work environment, video is the next best thing for work meetings. It’s engaging, convenient and a boon for productivity. A study by Lifesize found the following to be true about video conferencing and its positive effect on the professional work environment:
- 89 percent of remote employees say that video helps them feel more connected to their colleagues.
- 87 percent of employees not physically present for a meeting report feeling better engaged with colleagues through video.
- 90 percent say that video makes it easier to get their point across.
Millennials crave purposeful work, and in today’s distributed workforce, the more virtual “face-to-face” time possible, the more enjoyable the work environment. And while previous generations may be resistant to adoption, old dogs can learn new tricks, especially if it means reaping the productivity benefits of video. Research shows that millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025; as an organization, you’ll need to plan for this and evaluate video conferencing if it isn’t currently part of your technology infrastructure, or risk losing millennial talent.
As we embark on the transition towards a younger workforce, characterized by the rise of Generation Z, commonly known as Digital Natives or the iGeneration, it becomes evident that our future workforce will be shaped by individuals who possess an innate familiarity with digital technology and an unprecedented level of connectivity. This transformative shift calls for a proactive approach in understanding and leveraging the unique skills, perspectives, and preferences of this generation. By recognizing and harnessing their digital fluency and inherent adaptability, we can cultivate an environment that fosters innovation, collaboration, and continued growth in the rapidly evolving landscape of the digital age. As the torch is passed to Generation Z, let us embrace this new chapter with optimism and anticipation, ready to tap into the vast potential they bring to the table.
By Bobby Beckmann