Glance around during any normal day, and you can find hundreds of examples of the changing world of work. Employees used to file in at nine and leave at five, spending all day at their desks. But today, as much as 60 percent of desks in the U.S. are unoccupied at any given time. And how many of us have finished a project or sent an email from home in the past couple weeks, outside normal working hours? I know I have.
Technology has shaped many of these changes. And, in turn, it also changed the workforce. With so much connectivity and computing power in the palm of our hands today, freelancers and entrepreneurs are everywhere, working from anywhere. Coworking spaces like WeWork are popping up every day, offering people a place to pursue their individual jobs alongside other solo acts, startups and small businesses, even remote teams that are part of larger businesses. And the traditional workforce is now full of millennials, a generation that came of age at the same time as today’s paradigm-shifting technologies — and who therefore have a unique set of perspectives and expectations when it comes to where and how they work.
The great thing is, we don’t need to guess or wonder about what those perspectives and expectations are. Microsoft recently commissioned a survey that gets right to the heart of it — and the findings are really illuminating:
- Almost all the millennial workers in the poll — 93 percent — said that working for a company with updated technology, services and solutions was important to them; 48 percent said it was “extremely important.”
- When it comes to which factors contribute to their ideal workplace culture, people chose “good team collaboration” more often than any other.
- An overwhelming 88 percent of respondents said that evidence of a strong mission/values system was something that draws them to a company.
- And an almost equal majority — 80 percent — believe they are in charge of creating their own career paths; less than half expect to stay with their current employer for more than four years.
The implications for employers are pretty clear: Give employees the tools to collaborate their way, or don’t expect them to stay around for long. Even freelancers and entrepreneurs can learn from this data, as they think about which tools will help them work at today’s pace and in today’s ways.
What about company mission and values? Does technology have anything to do with those? A lot, actually. A company that believes in teamwork and incorporating input from multiple angles will have very different tools than one that believes in keeping workflows and expertise from overlapping. A company that claims to be dedicated to innovation and new ideas definitely has to have the technology to back it up.
So technology is relevant to all the findings of the survey we did. And it’s exactly those trends and preferences that we had in mind when we designed Office 365. It’s a tool for the changing world of work, for a number of reasons:
- It‘s on-the-go like you. Forty-eight percent of millennials use two devices for work, and 23 percent use three or more. To be most productive, they need a fluid experience from one device to the next, and consistent contact with the files and collaborators they interact with. For example, with Office 365, employees at Dash – an app startup that turns all cars into ‘smart’ cars – can use their mobile devices to run diagnostics from the Dash mobile app inside a vehicle and cross-check the data in real-time with a Word document that another employee is updating back at the office.
- It keeps employees connected and collaborative. With millennials ranking collaboration as their number-one factor in workplace culture, workplaces that can’t bring teams together will have a hard time staying competitive. One customer, Ridolfi, and their progressive adoption of new technology like Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) has allowed their 42-person company become more productive and agile and ultimately win business away from much larger companies in their field. EMS and Office 365 has enabled Ridolfi’s mobile employees work on their own terms from their own devices, while remaining securely connected to their colleagues. Additionally, small businesses can take advantage of the new Skype for Business through Office 365 to connect and collaborate with remote colleagues.
- It soars across platforms and devices. Flexibility and choice are the hallmarks of working today. And that includes the devices you use and the brands behind them. Office 365 is a productivity tool for you, not for any particular platform. We’ve removed all barriers between devices and operating systems so that Office 365 can be your consistent ally in getting work done, all day, on all devices. Honestly, this says something about our mission and values. And putting productivity above all other considerations is a powerful statement for any company interested in courting and retaining today’s top talent.
Best of all, big enterprises aren’t the only ones in need of — and able to take advantage of — this kind of empowered productivity. Entrepreneurs and small businesses can take advantage of it too with affordable and scalable technology like Office 365.
In the new world of work, there is a cost to inaction when it comes to implementing the latest technology. To keep your business competitive and attract and retain top millennial talent, I strongly encourage you to talk to a local Microsoft partner and check out all of the ways modern technology and Office 365 can improve your business.