Be more millennial – changes in the workplace

Millennials in the morning – It’s a new dawn

I was lucky enough to recently attend a GA morning creative session They’re ‘a pioneer in education and career transformation, specialising in today’s most in-demand skills’. Perfect for somebody like me that’s worked in education, is a creative, works in social and is also a baby boomer.

It was a bright morning full of bright young things who after chatting to a few of them (a.m. networking over rocket fuel coffee and surprisingly tasty granola) all seemed to do at least two jobs; fashion/teaching, photographer/web dev, academic/creative writing events organiser.  All of them lived online, and were social beasts offline.

Who wants to be a multi-hyphenate?

We all had one thing in common, we were all there to see one very inspirational woman speak. Emma Gannon is a poster-girl for many things, which is wonderfully demonstrated in the new Microsoft ad. She’s a self-confessed ‘multi-hyphenate’ or ‘slashie’. Way more relevant that a model/actress, but possibly seen as vocationally ‘unstable’ through a baby boomer, retro workplace filter.

I was there because as a Gen X’er, neatly sandwiched between my parents, the baby boomers and my colleagues, millennials, I’ve straddled two different working worlds, a fact that’s informing a lot of how and what I am learning about being part of a digital workforce.

Workin’ 9-5. What a way to make a livin’

Technology’s exponentially developed since ‘I were a lad’, but has the workplace kept pace? It certainly tries, but isn’t quite flexible enough yet. As Dolly said “Workin’ 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin’”. Today’s millennials can and do work from 9pm – 5am if they want, but what does business culture want? We all have the tools, but millennials have the skills to be flexible in how and where they work. They’re altruistic, genuinely collaborative, and by 2030, will make up 75% of the workforce.

Today’s ‘unstable’ workers (working different jobs, no 9-5 corporate ethos, gig economy, skill sharing mindset) will be tomorrow’s c-suite leaders. Are we truly doing enough to prepare them for an unwritten future, where their jobs haven’t been invented yet?

Well, let’s look at learning. Coding has snuck on to the curriculum, because, you know apps are the future. The days of learning secretarial type skills are disappearing, but budgetary constraints & political goals mean that keeping up, can often mean ‘lagging behind’. The idea of ‘quick decisions’ on updating hardware and software, well, aren’t necessarily that quick. You also have to factor in teaching the teachers. For many, that may mean resistance to change.

Also, rising living costs means for a lot of parents, both must work. Childcare is extortionate. There are some concessions in corporate culture, like childcare vouchers, an onsite crèche, etc. but they’re the minority. How about flexible working hours? Working remotely? Filling the cloud to bursting with productive work that’s not originated in an office. The difference between Gen X and M, is that they’re taking ownership of their digital lives one ‘gig’ at a time.

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be an Instagrammer

For those entering the workforce, they probably have a clutch of native digital skills but have traversed the choppy waters of mainstream education feeling a bit disillusioned. How can you get around the ‘must have’ requirements of a traditional education to enter a workplace setting?

You can learn online. It’s a great leveller. No matter your age, you can self-improve at your pace, to your needs. Sites like Future Learn broaden personal choice and horizons.

Being on social media is great for communication, friendships, information and more. However, it’s not enough to simply say I want to be a Vlogger, or “I want to do Instagram as a job”. You need to find your voice, expertise, and apply it. Find the right platform for you. A CV? Your digital life is online. Make a space for yourself.

Rebel with a cause

Emma” rebelled against the ladder” and learnt from her successes and failures. She did lots of jobs that came after and because of the 2009 blogging gold rush, and added value to her ‘brand’ along the way, acquiring experiences and building a ‘modular career’ that’s utterly personalised, which is exactly what social media is.

In a culture where even in creative land, “you must stay in a job for at least a year”, she created and found her own opportunities. There is an inherent sense of empowerment being a digital native/millennial, but wider culture could learn from them on how to take risks. You can zig zag through industry and come out the other side wiser and enriched.

The proof is in the future-proofing

Now is the time to future-proof ourselves. Even as Gen X’ers, we can pack in our jobs and create a new landscape for ourselves. Want to start a business? You can easily ind a web developer, designer or copywriter to help. They’re the ones that are juggling clients and pursuits to help each other, and you.

The future of work and lifestyles are merging. The rise of the millennial workforce is being well-documented. They’re armed to the teeth with the modern tools needed to succeed in their world. The traditional working world is changing, and soon, theirs will be the norm. But can we all transition? Emma said to “wrap yourselves in knowledge and don’t become complacent”.

If we’re all going to be working to a 100, whether we’re X or M, we can look to today’s digital landscape and prepare ourselves for what comes next. It may just be that the business world that needs to catch up. We can all learn from millennials.

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