Millennial Leaders: 7 Ways These Emerging Pros Will Drive Remote Work

millennial leaders

Millennials are becoming the most populous workers in the nation, and they’re shaking up the workplace as they enter management. Read on to learn how millennial leaders will influence the way we work remotely for years to come.

Millennial Leaders: 7 Ways These Emerging Pros Will Drive Remote Work

Usually classified as individuals born roughly between 1981 and 1997, Millennials are a growing driver of modern workplace trends. Pew Research expects Millennial workers to reach 73 million in 2019 and surpass all other generations in population and influence.

In fact, Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup, suggests that “Millennials will change the world decisively more than any other generation.” in their How Millennials Want to Work and Live report. He further predicts that Millennial leaders and employees will dramatically transform the workplace and the way we live in relation to our careers.

Additionally, as more Millennials assume management positions, the nature of the workplace will inevitably shift to incorporate their ideas. According to sources like Gallup, Millennial values tend to include:

  • Scheduling flexibility
  • Work-life balance
  • Meaningful work
  • Professional development

However, researchers like Oxford Economics argue that Millennials are a product of their predecessors and urge against “viewing Millennials as some sort of new species.” But as the first generation to grow to up with the Internet, they cite several advantages that Millennials have for leading teams and companies. These include their ability to embrace new technologies, make real-time decisions, reduce corporate bureaucracy, and increase their digital skills.

Regardless of whether you believe that Millennials will cause a tidal wave of change or just a ripple, the shift to Millennial management is already underway. Here are some strategies that Millennial leaders will likely use to influence the workplace and drive the future of telecommuting.

1. Increased Flexibility

Before we scoff at traditional work schedules, let’s remember that the 9-5 was a glorious relief to workers during the 1800s. A Brit named Robert Owen first proposed the eight-hour workday in 1817 with America implementing its first eight-hour shift in 1842. This new work model was revolutionary and gave employees more of what we now call, work-life balance.

Though the 9-5 strategy was helpful for both employers and employees, times and expectations have changed. Technology and connectivity have reduced the relevance of traditional scheduling and  the willingness of employees to sacrifice spare time. Plus, according to SHRM’s Flexible Work Arrangements report, modern workers find that telecommuting and flexible scheduling helps them:

  • Increase productivity
  • Take fewer days off
  • Enhance work quality
  • Boost creativity
  • Improve customer and client satisfaction

Flexible arrangements also help employers attract and retain workers while decreasing hiring costs and turnover.

Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork, told CNBC outright that Millennials will toss traditional scheduling in the trash and offer time flexibility without batting an eye. Thus, since Millennials value their time and seek flexible schedules for themselves, they’ll likely share these beloved freedoms with future team members.

2. Better Work-Life Balance

According to Oxford Economics, all generations seek work-life balance, yet Millennials seem to emphasize and prioritize it more than their predecessors. This makes intuitive sense as Millennials came of age alongside advancements in technology that are deeply interwoven with the birth of the remote work model. Though flex-time initially emerged in the late 1960s, it took a few years for technology to catch up and telecommuting to catch on. But once it did, it changed the nature of work forever.

Telecommuting gives workers more ownership over their lives and careers so they can achieve balance without sacrificing pay or the opportunity for meaningful work. Unfortunately, this is often seen as “wanting it all,” and Millennials get a bad reputation for acting entitled. Realistically, telecommuting Millennials leverage technology to increase control over their time which raises the job satisfaction bar.

Thus, as more workers (not just Millennials) realize the work-life balance rewards of remote work, we’ll continue to see an increase in telecommute positions.

millennial leaders

3. Better Work-Life Integration

Though the intention of work-life balance is great, the concept may miss the mark for some workers. As Berkley Haas states, work-life balance insinuates that work and career are isolated entities. However, many Millennials want their careers interlaced throughout their lives, not standing alone as a separate facet.

In addition to eating dinner with their families every night, Millennials want to do meaningful work that reflects their lifestyle goals and incorporates their values. They want their careers to be part of their persona, not just something that earns them money so they can go home to be someone different.

To achieve better work-life integration, we’ll see Millennial leaders creating more mission-based occupations. This will help workers align their jobs with their lifestyles, and vice versa. Though telecommuters are ultimately responsible for integrating their careers and lives, we’ll see employers encouraging more workers to set up shop at home or a remote location where they can achieve their work-life goals.

4. Independent Contractors

Millennials are notorious for changing jobs frequently until they find a satisfying fit. Regardless of your take on company loyalty, Millennial leaders understand and accept that workers may not stick around if something better comes along. So, why would they waste company time and money with the risk of constant turnover?

To combat the costs of employee attrition, Millennials are likely to offer more independent contractor and freelancer jobs for ongoing support or to assess individuals before offering permanent positions.

According to a recent NPR/Marist poll, one in five workers holds a contractor job. More employers are leaning on contract staff to fill gaps, provide temporary support, and reduce overall employment costs, such as healthcare benefits and retirement matching.

Plus, Millennials are well-versed in the gig economy. Prudential estimates that nearly one in four Millennials have worked as an independent contractor or freelancer so far in their careers. Thus, Millennials understand the values, requirements, and expectations needed to create effective relationships with contractors. They are also more likely to treat contractors as company team members rather than outsourced support, despite their employment status.

5. Geographical Dispersal

Millennials, especially those in the gig economy, are accustomed to working with individuals across different time zones and work environments. And, just as they change jobs to satisfy their career goals, they aren’t afraid to move about the country or globe to procure their desired lifestyle.

According to U.S. Census geographical mobility data, over 14.5 million Americans aged 20 through 39 moved within their state, out of state, or out of the country between 2017 and 2018. Compared to other age groups, Millennials make up 45% of all individuals who move around. Where are they all going? SmartAsset summed up the top ten states where most Millennials are moving:

  1. Washington
  2. Texas
  3. Colorado
  4. Virginia
  5. Georgia
  6. Oregon
  7. North Carolina
  8. Nevada
  9. Florida
  10. Arizona

Is it a coincidence that many of these are among the top states for telecommute jobs? Virtual Vocations thinks not.

As more Millennials leaders emerge, candidates will increasingly find that recruiters care more about a person’s qualifications and cultural fit than geographic location. Though some companies may need to set hiring boundaries due to certain employee location restrictions, it’s unlikely that Millennials will see geography as a barrier for hiring top talent.

millennial leaders

6. Professional Coaching

Gallup’s riveting workplace study reveals that 59% of Millennials view learning and professional growth as critical to their job satisfaction. Additionally, the quality of management and availability of managers to help set goals, expectations, and learning paths increases Millennial engagement tremendously.

Millennials don’t just want to learn in classrooms and gain more credentials to boost their earnings. They also want coaches who will help them grow and encourage them every step of the way, which is different from the more traditional mentoring method of professional development.

Mentoring is more of an informal way for an experienced professional to give tips and guidance to a less experienced professional. The mentee often asks questions, presents issues, pitches ideas, and the mentor comments and helps the mentee decide which actions to take.

Coaching, on the other hand, is more metric-based, where the coach holds the employee accountable for achieving a mutually agreed upon target. Just like sports coaches help players strategize and refine their movements to score points and win games, professional coaches help workers develop career strategies and improve their skills so that they achieve their goals. Therefore, Millennial leaders will likely implement coaching programs where managers play a more critical role in guiding their team members collectively and individually.

7. Digital Readiness

Millennials grew up in a world of quickly evolving and mass-produced technology, which means they have instinctual digital skills that don’t require training. They have an advantage over generations that may lack digital readiness in the workplace.

Millennial leaders will likely raise the bar for jobseekers to reduce technology onboarding and training costs.

Even managers of non-technical roles, such as digital marketers, business analysts, and product owners, will expect candidates to have specific tech skills that enable fluid communication with programmers and software engineers.

As evidence, a 2017 report by Burning Glass Technologies and Oracle found that jobs related to computer science dominate the market in terms of employment and salary growth. Yet, only 18% of such roles require an actual computer science degree. This means that employers are expecting professionals to have adequate tech skills and experience, regardless of their educational background. Therefore, Millennial recruiters are going prioritize tech-related bullet points and proven capabilities on jobseeker applications more than advanced degrees from prestigious academic institutions.

Are You Ready for the New Wave of Remote Work?

Whether you believe Millennial leaders will crush the status quo or foster gradual progress, the reality is that Millennials are entering management and will soon dominate the remote workplace.

One of the best ways to get ready for Millennial managers is to get some remote work experience. As employers increasingly offer telecommute positions, and as more Millennials operate remote teams, recruiters need to know that you can excel in a telecommute environment.

Consider getting a side gig to sample the lifestyle or jump in feet first and switch to a telecommute position. To find remote jobs in your field, head over to the Virtual Vocations job database or contact our telecommute job experts for help and get started!

How do you see the future of Millennial leaders’ impact on remote workConnect with Virtual Vocations on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn to tell us your advice or share your own telecommuting experiences.  

Photo Credit: 1. iStock.com/Yue_; 2. iStock.com/monzenmachi; 3. iStock.com/fizkes


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